'In Israel, it can be easy to choose a side. In the volatile country strained by the tension between Arabs and Jews, some choose to hate.
But Duke tennis standout Nadine Fahoum is an Israeli that does not hate. As an Arab growing up in Haifa, Fahoum was exposed to the political discord and periodic violence inherent to the conflict. Thanks to Nadine’s parents, however, she was given the opportunity to understand the other side.
“We don’t think about coexistence, we just live it,” Fahoum said. “It’s not something that my family has to think too much about. We just do it. It’s normal, that’s how it should be.”
Nadine’s mother, Wafa Zoabi Fahoum, a lawyer by trade, was formerly the head of Beit Hagefen, a non-profit organization in Haifa that works toward improving relations between Arabs and Jews. She and her husband, Anan, made the unusual decision to send their daughter to the Reali Hebrew School, rather than choosing a school predominantly composed of Arab students. When Nadine enrolled, she was the only Arab student there.
Consequently, from a young age Nadine was completely surrounded by Jewish people. And even though her family had many Arab friends, most of Nadine’s friends were Jewish kids.
“I never noticed it,” Nadine said. “When I was with Jewish people, I felt welcome…. All the time I heard both sides. I heard the Jewish side, and I heard the Arab side. And I’m somewhere in the middle trying to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. When you hear everything, it’s easier for you to see the whole picture.”
At the age of nine, Nadine began playing tennis at the Haifa Tennis Center where she was, once again, the only Arab. She was also the most talented athlete. Under the tutelage of her first coach Eli Tzarfati, Nadine won her first national championship at the age of 11, competing almost entirely against Jewish opponents.'What is wrong with Israel that an Arab girl can do so well and represent her country from 2003 to 2008? Israel the apartheid state; I think not.