Dear Ms Shah,

You don’t know me and I only read about you in the Guardian article that stated your opinions regarding Israel and Israelis, and the subsequent turn of events. Still since you showed such interest in the future of my country and its people I would like to tell you a little about my past, it is a typical Jewish/Israeli story

The last time my father saw his parents and his brother was in 1934, when he was 21 year old. He had worked for a Jewish firm in Berlin, and as the Nazis were putting a pressure of everything Jewish, the firm was transferred to Tel Aviv, my father moved there as well. This is how my father was the only one from his family to be saved from the Nazis.

My mother came to Tel Aviv, at the age of 17 with her family, they were Zionists and were granted certificates to immigrate to Israel because my grandfather had a job waiting, and his children were all under 18.

At that time, the 1930s, my country was under a  British Mandate (it got the mandate to rule that area in the early 1920s and it lasted till 1948) Immigration was banned, but some certificates were granted, my parents were the lucky ones. 

I consider myself a Zionist: I believe that Jews have a right to live in Israel. It is a right that was granted to us by the United Nation vote in 1947. I also believe that all citizens of the state of Israel deserve the right to be here.

Although, like many of my friends, I don’t agree with many actions of the Israeli government, and in a democratic way we protest against them, I know that Jews are not hated because of those actions. It seems to me that often anti-Semitism is disguised as anti-Zionism.

Like many Israeli, especially those who grew up in this country I don’t get anti-Semitism.  We cannot believe that someone would not like us just because we are Jewish: “what is there not to like?”  I am quite certain that my father, in Berlin of the early 1930s, felt the same way. He grew up in a seemingly progressive society in Berlin, and besides, he was a worthy young man.

To begin a dialogue I would like to invite you to come to Israel as my guest and stay in my home. The recent scandal could turn into an opportunity to learn more about Jews, Israelis and Israel. Once you see the  country and meet the people, I hope you would see us as we really are — people just like you.

Sincerely yours,

Orna