Interview with Sam Veytsman: SSI of Drake University

Drake University: Sam Veytsman

From the northwest suburbs of Chicago, we have Sam Veytsman, the Students Supporting Israel (SSI) president at Drake University. As a sophomore at Drake University, Veytsman is studying political science and international relations. After going to Israel three times with quite a few different programs, Veytsman is yearning to go back to Israel once again this summer.

In his freshman year of college, the night before Yom Kippur, his campus sponsored a speaker named Naeem Mateek, who is a Palestinian reverend that has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Many Jewish and non-Jewish students sat down with the administration and the president of the University to discuss this event and in the end, a lot of students were unsatisfied with their response. This caused those unsatisfied students to to reach out to Chicago’s council general. With this connection, the council general told the group of students to reach out to Ilan Sinelnikov, SSI’s founder. “After speaking to Ilan, we learned about the SSI movement and decided to start one on our own campus.”

On the Drake University campus, there is not a lot of talk about Israel, so the main focus of Veytsman and the rest of his board is to educate other students about Israel. “Since I attend school with students who have never even met a Jewish person before, it is very difficult to speak and educate people about Judaism and Israel.”

When SSI at Drake University was first formed, there was no initial backing from the community. Now, with the over 5,000 students and faculty, “we have worked with different community members where they showcase their support for our cause.” In addition to this, now they recieve more outside support than ever before.

Overall, being a part of SSI has taught Veytsman to deal with all kinds of people. “De Moines is a very politically driven city so everyone has an opinion on everything.” Thus, dealing with different communities and board members have taught him how to lead better.

In five to ten years from now, Veytsman sees himself being done with school, but still advocating strongly for Israel through SSI and other pro-Israel organizations.
To the rest of the SSI’ers out there, Veytsman says to “use your resources, there are people out there that will do whatever they can to help you so accept help from others. Other SSI chapters also help, because we are all one support system.”

Lastly, Veytsman wants thank David Atri Schuller, co-founder and Vice president of their chapter, because without his hard work and dedication nothing would have been possible.

About the Author
Leor Saghian is a first year student at Santa Monica College majoring in Psychology and is part of the local Students Supporting Israel chapter. Currently, Leor serves as an intern for the national SSI Movement as a publisher and blogger. Leor's family is originally from Iran and following the revolution, immigrated to the United States and Israel.
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