I am a Zionist; I believe the Jews deserve their homeland after it was stolen from them 2000 years ago when their temple was burned to the ground and most of them were expelled from the land by the Roman conquerors.
I was born in Israel and in fact my birth certificate indicates I am a “Palestinian” born in British Mandate – The Land of Israel – Palestine.
I am now a USA citizen; circumstances did not allow me to visit Israel since 2002 and last month, June 2016, I travelled to visit my birth place country, the nation state of the Jewish people, Israel, a country I staunchly support.
I started the journey with a week visit to Poland where I planned to seek and find traces of my father’s family, all of whom were murdered by Hitler’s madmen followers for being Jews, much to no avail, to my great chagrin. For a visiting Jew, I found Poland to be a sad country. It is one large Jewish cemetery no matter where you go, where you visit. During WWII, Poland was depleted of its 3 million Polish-Jews and their remarkable Jewish culture and was left with some 70,000 Jews living there today who have hardly any joy when under each stone one can find congealed Jewish blood of the murdered Jews.
From Poland, I proceeded to my visit to Israel.
The intention of my visit was to update C.H.I.P, the education foundation over which I preside and bring myself up-to-date, as fourteen years is a long time and Israel did not wait for me, it grew as if it is on steroids.
So what did I see, what did I experience and what is the after-visit emotional, intellectual and overview sediment I took back and carry with me now?
Israel can be defined as capitalism and creativity on steroids. Building are being erected everywhere, construction cranes are the skyline’s scene.
During the 14 years I did not visit the country, Israel built a sophisticated net of highways and the country became access friendly. A small country one can now drive through in one day from the very north to the very southern point, the picturesque city Eilat.
Jerusalem is truly the heart of the world. You enter the city and you feel the Divine Presence. It is a city where the very far past of the Jewish nation meets the 21st century Israeli nation, the people who, in my opinion, are now forming the future character of the Jewish nation.
Tel Aviv, where east meets west, a city where I spent the least time is the city that never sleeps and where one can spend a month but never see all there is to see.
Haifa, where I spent most of my childhood and youth, is a changed city. If I could not recognize the narrow streets I walked on for years, it must tell volumes. Mount Carmel side that is facing the harbor is covered with record numbers of new buildings, hardly the view I remembered.
Then there is Ashkelon, the city so close to Gaza where people are buying summer apartments along the white sand sea shore and so is in Ashdod and Netanya. Gazans should emulate their neighbors, not try to destroy them. There is a need to mention again that construction sites are everywhere, marinas and sea front boardwalks galore.
When I passed the Jordan River on my way to the Golan Heights, with the majestic Mount Hermon towering nearby, I saw people busy river-rafting in the biblical river. While on the top of the heights I heard the gunfire from near-far Syria war zone, enjoyed tasting good Israel Kosher wine from local award-winning winery and dined at a Druze restaurant serving delicious Midwestern Druze type food.
I visited the Aramaic village of GISH, a foot away from Israel’s border with Lebanon to learn that the residents’ ancestors of the 4th century AD were Jews who converted to Christianity.
I spent a day at Dalyat-el-Carmel, the Zionist Druze village nestled on the tip of the Carmel Mountain from where you can see the edges of Israel, to the east the border with Jordan and to the west the Mediterranean Sea.
One day visit at Sheba Medical Center, visited by 1 million patients each year, only affirmed to me that from Israel, healing will come.
I saw the farm lands and orchards, forever green, even during the scorching summer and believe me it was hot, due to Israel’s innovative irrigation methods. There the Israelis grow vegetables and fruit they simply invent. If you eat the ever-so-sweet watermelon of Israel, you will never enjoy another watermelon elsewhere. If you visit an Israel supermarket, you will get lost in the ever-so-generous milk and cheese products section. And wherever you go, you see Israeli Arabs equality integrated in society, serving in pharmacies, supermarkets, cafes and working construction and other jobs.
The BDS-ers, where is this face of Israel you hate so much, with incitement and lies hide from the public?
I experience friendly Shabbat services and the joy of donating a Torah scroll to a local synagogue, celebrated almost like a Jewish wedding. And I mingled with the happy, loud, unmannered, bright and so good looking and positive Israelis. What a joy from which the world should take heed.
I also saw the other side of Israel when I visited the Dolev Homes for girls at risk. There I saw the dark face of Israel meets unconditional dedication to help those in stressful need, where the recovery and beginning of a normal and productive life is based on three color steps. Their meaning should apply to every society’s sphere of existence:
- Red for Protection
- Orange for Belonging and Relevance
- Green for Meaning
I am limited in words allowed in an article to go into depth of what I saw and what captured my heart so very tightly.
As Sara, my guide at City of David excavations said: “We returned to the city of David because we did not lose hope; The City of David was waiting for us with much evidence. As long as deep in the heart the Jewish soul yearns, there it started and continues…”
To say I was astonished each day, when I was exploring my birthplace from which I was absent for way too long, is an understatement.
I sum it up: the world must stand with Israel for its own sake!