When I moved to Atlanta seven years ago, Israel was the place I came from. I didn’t spend too much time thinking about what it means to me. Today I have a much better answer: Israel means everything.
It’s not just my family, my friends, the food, the culture, the language, the beautiful beaches and green mountains. Israel is about what it has become in only 70 years. To be Israeli today means you are proud of your country’s achievements in high tech, agriculture, science and medicine.
You feel proud when it is the first country to send help anywhere in the world when needed. You see the brave soldiers of the first and only Jewish army protect Israel’s citizens every day. To me, Israel is home, a place you go back to at the end of the day when you need to relax — not be judged, but loved. A place where every Jew from anywhere in the world can feel the same. A place where they stop everything three times a year to commemorate the Holocaust and our Memorial Day.
In many ways Israel today is a success story. Yes, it’s not perfect, but we never said we want to be. Keep in mind that only 120 years ago we were just an idea in the minds of the Zionist movement, and only 100 years ago we got recognized by the British Empire, and only 70 years ago we declared independence.
If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.