Let’s be real: 2013 was a tough year for Israel in the public eye.

From biased headlines in the international press, to the BDS movement, to the rising tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism sweeping across the world, we got the memo:  There are a lot of people who really don’t like Israel.

(Just to be abundantly clear, we are not talking about the people who understand the complexities of this country. We are not talking about the people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty and want to fix the problems that they see.  We are not talking about the people who understand that like every country in the whole entire world, Israel is a work in progress and there will be policies that not everyone loves. Nope. We’re talking about the people far, far away who hate on Israel without ever being here, without ever seeing just how poignantly nuanced this place is, and without more than really just a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of Israel’s existence)

But you know what? These shmucks get enough air time as it is, so we’re going to take the focus off of them for a change, and instead talk about the wonderful people who have stood with Israel in 2013.

 

The Bedouin trackers

7 people who stood with Israel in 2013

Lt. Col. Hassan, left, teaching a young tracker the ropes (Photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/ Times of Israel)

These Bedouin IDF soldiers spend their waking hours on the front line, protecting Israel from terrorists….

 

Ashton Kutcher 

Yossi Vardi (right) pictured with actor Ashton Kutcher last week (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Yossi Vardi (right) pictured with actor Ashton Kutcher last week (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Yes, Ashton Kutcher, who is waaaaay more than just a pretty face. This year, he talked tech and inspiration in Israel… and apparently, he learned the secret to success a long time ago: From his Kaballah teacher in Tel Aviv. 

 

Father Gabriel Naddaf

7 people who stood with Israel in 2013

A Christian Arab soldier receiving a certificate of appreciation from Father Gabriel Naddaf during a recent event in Nazareth (photo credit: courtesy IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

So, Israeli Arabs do not have to serve in the IDF — and deciding to enlist is pretty taboo in most Arab communities.  But Father Gabriel Naddaf is hoping to change that: “We are all in the same boat. Why shouldn’t we serve?” And apparently, in large parts thanks to his efforts, conscription among Christian Arabs has seen a threefold rise.

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Jones, and Rihanna.

Because they defied Roger Waters et al, and played amazing shows in Israel.  

 

Amare Stoudemire

NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Thursday, July 18, 2013. (photo credit: Shimon Peres Facebook page)

NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Thursday, July 18, 2013. (photo credit: Shimon Peres Facebook page)

Amar’e Stoudemire, the New York Knicks star is ready to cast his lot in with the people of Israel. Literally. We hear he’s seeking Israeli citizenship.   

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) in Ottawa, Canada. March 02, 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) in Ottawa, Canada. March 02, 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Flash90)

Apparently, at least one world leader has our back. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been staunchly supportive of Israel, and he’s even planning a visit here in January. 

 

Israel’s Amish guests

Amish community members at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Thursday, November 28, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Amish community members at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, Thursday, November 28, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

30 devout Christians, excommunicated from their communities for non-conformity (flying on an airplane to Israel anyone?) came to Jerusalem to apologize for not alleviating the historical suffering of the Jews.

 

And to this — all of this — we say thank you.        

Keep sharing the love.

 

** By Sarah Tuttle-Singer **