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Why I Stand with Israel
By Joe Ozer

One can reflect on the situation currently happening in the Middle East and draw one’s own conclusions. That ability is a lynchpin of democracy, which is something that I love about the country I live in. My conclusions are always based on what I perceive to be the root cause of what has gotten us to where we are. In the case of the State of Israel, I believe that the root of everything the state does is done to protect its own. Israel puts lives first, which is why it is so upsetting when the media and the public paint Israel with a brush depicting unspeakably genocidal racists. Nothing can be further from the truth, but it feels as though the people who scream and repeat libels from days gone by manage to perpetuate those untruths on modern society. Today, it’s all too easy for social media to create a polarising atmosphere where nuance and context are ignored. Everything appears to be black or white, when in reality, life unfolds in greyscale.

Israel’s founding is based on Jewish principles that have shaped my life from my childhood in primary school. I believe myself to be a good person, so I believe a country based on those principles to be good in the same mould. This is not to say that I am blind to injustices and difficulties in the region – in the same way I strive to be a better human, I recognise that Israel strives to be a better country.

I pray for a day when my family in Israel and all the population can stop saying that they live in “a rough neighbourhood.” I pray for a day when Israel’s eighteen-year-olds can go straight to university without having to serve in the army first. I pray for a day when peace in the Middle East is not just a phrase, but a reality.

 

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Standing with Israel Forever
By Eyla Benedykt

I have tried to find out why Israel moves me so much, tried to understand why I cry when listening to Hatikvah... and there is only one explanation: Israel is inside me, in my life, in my soul! 

I am proud to see how Israel cares about every citizen, every fallen soldier — they are not just numbers.  Israel shows us every day how strong and resilient it is—whether vaccinating or defending its people.  In this very difficult moment, in which Israel is being attacked and needs to defend itself, we in the Diaspora are uniting more and more; we want to help.  We want Israelis to know that they can count on us, and even though we are scattered around the world, in a matter of seconds we can be one, because our people are one. Unlike previous wars, this one holds a particular personal significance for me: my daughter Nicole is in Israel for the Shnat Betar program and will stay until the end of 2021. But even with all the worries I may have as a mother, I am proud that my daughter is there, and I certainly can say that she is in the safest place in the world!!

I ask everyone to pray for Israel and not to forget to plant in their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren the seed of Love and support for Israel.  I'm sure we'll all be celebrating soon!

AM ISRAEL HAI

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A Time of Uncertainty and Sadness
By Jonathan Touboul

The Jewish State is celebrating its 73rd anniversary in a context of great uncertainty. Israel has overcome the
Covid crisis, only to face an unprecedented security crisis —one that is deeply shaking some of the foundations
of Israeli society.

External forces try to exploit the slightest pretext to undermine the values of the State of Israel, of trust in
its institutions and of the inclusiveness of its different populations. Eventually, such actions make us fear the
possibility of another Intifada.

But we stand with Israel by recalling the recent victories on the diplomatic front to promote peaceful relationships with several states, crowning years of efforts to strengthen Israel's position in the world.

We stand with Israel by helping to reinforce its economy. Indeed, Israel's excellence in many fields and its development of technological hubs contribute to the stability and integration of all populations within Israeli society. And we want to let the world know that a State of Israel living in peace is a country capable of producing life-saving advances that contribute to the well-being of all humanity, as the recent health crisis has proven.

We stand with Israel because we know that Israelis will make every effort to avoid another Intifada and neutralize what appears to be a strategy of chaos.

It is with great sadness that we witness current events in Israel; we feel for each life lost, no matter which side of the struggle they were on. But we are convinced that Israel will be able to extinguish the present threat and restore national cohesion.

 

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I stand with Israel!
By Saul Kisel

As we have all been glued to the news and social media in order to watch the latest developments in Israel, and have been reaching out to friends in Israel to see how they are doing, I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to receive many updates and briefings, including one by Major Benzi Zimmerman, Head of the US Cooperation Desk at the IDF Cooperation Division. From Alon Ben David, senior defense correspondent for Israel Channel 13, as well as from Ambassador Mark Regev, foreign media advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who reminded us, referring to the numerous missed opportunities by the Palestinians for a true and lasting peace with Israel, of the old proverb: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

Nevertheless, once again we have been able to see that whenever there is an external conflict, Israelis and Jews all over the world put internal conflicts aside and stand together. Such conflicts remind us that the State of Israel is more important than ever, and that these challenges only make us stronger.

I have seen videos of fathers protecting and sheltering their children at the sound of the sirens, of people welcoming our Tzahal soldiers to their neighborhood with pride and joy, of people running for shelter from the Tel Aviv beaches, and of kids blessing their older siblings or parents who belong to Tzahal.

I stand with Israel because I love it.

I stand with Israel because we wouldn’t be here without it.

I stand with Israel because it is our collective home.

I stand with Israel the same way I stand with my family.

I stand with Israel because I am proud of it.

I stand with Israel because of my children and our future generations.

I stand with Israel because it is a part of me.

I stand with Israel because where Israel is, my heart is.

I stand with Israel—Am Israel Chai!

 

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My Home Away from Home
By Michael Grauss

The hope that is two thousand years old, to be a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem.

This passage from Israel´s national anthem, HaTikvah, echoes deeply within me. It expresses the yearning of the Jewish people to be independent in their own homeland – a wish alive even after centuries of oppression.

For me, it´s a miracle that this dream came true. That finally, we, the Jewish people, have a safe haven, a place where we are always welcome and accepted. I am grateful that I belong to a generation that can always rely on the existence of Israel, and it not something I take for granted. When my parents were born, Jewish self-determination was not even a realistic hope. The State of Israel is the promise that our faith will never again depend on others.

Since 1948, whenever times have gotten hard and the situation elsewhere in the world has become unbearable, Jews have known that we have a place that will protect us. As a Jew living in the Diaspora, Israel is my safety net, the life insurance for me and my family.

But Israel is so much more; it´s my home away from home. The connection between the Jewish people and Eretz Israel has existed from the time of our forefathers, and the connection is so deep that nothing can cut it. Every time I´m in Israel, I have an intense feeling of belonging. Again, “HaTikvah” puts this sentiment in a beautiful, poetic form:

As long as in the heart within, the Jewish soul yearns, and toward the eastern edges, onward, an eye gazes toward Zion, our hope is not yet lost.

As a father of three sons, I want to teach my children to love and support the only Jewish state in the world, our State of Israel. No matter where we live in the world, whether it´s Australia or Alaska, we are all united in knowing that Israel is always there for us.

My hope is that one day peace will prevail in Israel. The Abraham Accords are a giant step in this direction, but the road ahead of us is still long, as the latest eruption of violence has once again shown us. I´m proud that the IDF protects Israel´s civilians, while doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties in its fight against the terrorists ruling in Gaza.

It breaks my heart when I see videos of families spending the night in bunkers, putting their children to sleep while sirens are ringing. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel every day, but especially in these difficult times. One day, I hope, all this will be a distant memory of a different time.