The brilliant Chloé Simone Valdary asks the questions no one bothers to ask, the questions few realize are fundamental. It is easier to not think, to take for granted but Chloé is different and by example, she pushes others to do the same.
Think. Question. Learn.
Awareness and knowledge are the basic tools for creating change. So many of us say we want change, to make the world better, less hateful, more safe etc. but how many of us are taking the steps necessary to lead to that goal?
Recently Chloé asked her social media audience (which is already quite large – if you aren’t already following her, what are you waiting for?!) why they care about Israel. Shortly afterwards she provided her own thoughts. Many in her audience explained their feelings by detailing excellent qualities Israel has, such as tolerance or being the only Democracy in the Middle East. Chloé, very wisely explained that caring does not grow from characteristics, it is a result of a feeling, of connection and belonging. This, she explained, is like love for our parents which is not a result of their “cool features” but because they are family.
To me, this answer is perfect, yet still falls short. This is my answer:
I love Israel because I belong to her and she belongs to me. She is my home and my family, her people are my people.
Through Israel my existence expands outward and encompasses much more than my individual self. I am more than just me – I am my family, my friends and the strangers that live beside me. I am not limited to my individual space or time. I am the Nation of Israel living in Israel, around the world and spanning centuries. I am me and at the same time I am also my ancestors stretching out behind me and future generations stretching out before me. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Mosses, Solomon and David. Yael, Devorah, Rivkah, Sarah and Rachel. My fellowship is the strength, wisdom and belief of all these people as reflected in me. I am the bones in the ground in Jerusalem, the ashes in the concentration camps, the soldiers and the children of Israel. I am the blood soaked into each grain of dirt in this country, I am all the tears ever shed by my people. I am the centuries old longing to be free in our own land.
I love Israel because she is more than just a place, she is also an idea and I don’t know of any idea that is more beautiful. She is the origin of the morals and values the free world is founded on and in her existence she proves that anything is possible.
I love Israel for the same reason I love “The Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter.” She is inspiring. Epic, sweeping stories of adventure, heroes, glory, honor, the battle between good and evil where, although tragedies occur, love always wins… The difference is that here, these things are not a fantasy – they are our reality.
In Israel I don’t need faith I just need to LIVE. God is in the earth I walk on, the air I breathe and the water I drink. God is the flowers, the birds and the stars. I don’t need a synagogue to commune with God. I meet with God every time I go to the supermarket or walk my dog.
And like in any family, the people of Israel often annoy each other. We fight and we bicker. Sometimes we sincerely dislike each other. And yet it is love that holds us together. No external enemy can ever bring us down (it has always been true and still is true that the only real danger to Israel is from within). Woe on to the enemy that rises up against Israel. Many a Nation has risen and fallen while Israel still remains…
While other nations belong to each other because they have similar traits, likes or dislikes, Israel is a nation because she is a family. The children of Israel belong to everyone in Israel. One of the more stunning examples of this was when the people of Israel collectively held their breath, waiting for Gilad Shalit on the day he was returned from the bondage of his Hamas kidnappers. An entire nation stopped for a single person. It happens over and over – every person matters, every life must be accounted for… Israelis take this for granted, it is only the reaction of foreigners that shows us how unusual this mindset is.
I love Israel because her heart is bigger than her tiny self. This nation believes in the sanctity of life and strives to protect all life: our own, that of our friends and even our enemies… Israel reaches across the world to help people in need, no matter who they are or what they believe in. All Lives Matter is not a slogan, it is a law of nature. This is why there are so many vegetarians and vegans in Israel. This is why there are so many conservationists. Animals matter, the earth matters too.
I love Israel because she is passionate. Our reality can be harsh but it is also invigorating. The contrasts here are sharper: the topography is high or low, there are hills with rivers and then there is the desert. You drive through a city, turn the corner and there is no one in sight for miles. Even the sun seems closer and larger in Israel. There are people here from everywhere in the world, all with different languages, cultures and religions. Tradition and modern life are intertwined. Everyone is passionate about something. People care, no one is apathetic. Life has meaning. You are either loved or hated, however someone feels about you they will let you know. Strangers will die for you so that you may live. Israelis don’t wait for the government or the “authorities” to save them. We save ourselves. And each other. And anyone else we can help on the way. There are so many heroes in this country people stopped counting a long time ago.
Like any home, in some places Israel is run down, dirty, broken and needs to be fixed. I love Israel for her stubbornness. No matter how big the challenge, she always tries and often succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Israel knows she isn’t perfect but she tries damn hard to get there. Our standards are high and our stubbornness keeps them steady. We aim for the stars and beat ourselves up for “only” reaching the moon. We fall, dust ourselves off and try again the next day.
Israel is inspiration. She is spirit made tangible. She is home for the Jewish people but welcoming to all friends who, through love can also become family. She exists not just for her people but for all people, proof that they too can be bigger than themselves.
Israel is my home and my family. I belong to her and she belongs to me. She has shown me what love is and that anything is possible. She makes me better than I would be without her and for that I am grateful.
Israel is more than just a place. She is an idea, a promise and proof. All anyone has to do is look.
“An age is called dark, not because the light refuses to shine but because people refuse to see.”
That is why I love Israel.
What about you?