For me, Israel is like my child, my mother, or my sister. A huge piece of my heart is always with her. I worry about her, I fret over her decisions, I feel angry with her, I feel protective of her, and I pray for her good health.
Mostly, I long for her to be happy and peaceful.
Like any concerned relative, during the past few weeks I have been glued to my computer awaiting breaking news. I have read piece after piece online, often trying various websites to ensure I am being exposed to all perspectives. I obsessively check the Red Alert app to see the whereabouts of falling missiles (the Iron Dome didn't get one that landed a 3 minute's walk from my aunt's house). I have been embroiled in Facebook battles.
And all the while, I find myself somewhere in the middle. In the midst of extremism, of hatred, of blame, of justifications, of prejudice, of hypocrisy, and of pessimism on all sides, I try to question and I try to remain hopeful. I am one of many.
Israel is the home of my late grandparents and where many close family members live today. My grandparents immigrated to Israel from South Africa, where I was born, and so in some way I have always known countries divided by strife. I feel deeply connected to what is happening in Israel, and yet I strive to see the situation from all sides.
I have made the journey to see her nearly every year of my life and each year I feel apprehension and excitement and also a total calm when I am with her. I revere her for who she is and, even more so, who I think she has the potential to be. I will always support the ideals for which she stands.
I know my Israel is not perfect and has been the center of suffering for many, both in an effort to aid her or an attempt to crush her. One of my family members was killed by a bomb many years ago, and we feel the terrible pain and suffering of a life lost because of such hatred of her. Hatred exists on both sides, I know, and too much blood has been shed. I feel sadness for all the lives lost in her tumultuous history.
I can't relate to those who don't want her to thrive and who can't relate to our need for her to thrive. I can't help but feel some resentment towards those with no connection to her, but who judge her harshly without attention to her layers and her complex history; those who despise her now, but don't think much about her on most days. It scares me how much she is singled out in this world. I can understand the need to question her moves. I can understand the desire to criticize her (as much as it hurts and makes me defensive at times).
I take pride in her miraculous accomplishments. I love her deeply, but not blindly. I hold her to very high standards and will always do so. I hope the world will continue to as well. No matter the standpoint, we are all joined in our sadness.
I have high hopes for her. I hope you do too.