Let’s face it. Israel is not a normal country.

We cut each other off on the highway, but will help a total stranger carry her baby carriage onto the bus.

And we will steal your parking space at Azrieli, but will pay for your coffee when you’re five shekels short.

We scream at our neighbor because her dog peed on our lawn, but we will be the first over with a basket of food when her mother dies.

We cheat on our taxes, but give to charity.

We are cynical. We are optimists.

We litter in the park, but plant trees.

We draw lines. But reach across them.

We can be assholes. We can be brash. We can be rude but we will bring down joy with tambourines and timbrels, and we will join hands and dance the Hora with total strangers.

We have all grieved over someone killed horrifically and violently – a parent, or a lover, or a friend, or neighbour, or God forbid, a child. And this place is so small, so close, so FRAUGHT that even if we haven’t felt it touch our flesh, we feel it, and you can see it in our eyes when the news broadcaster announces “a bus has blown up in Talpiot.” “There has been a car ramming at Pisgat Ze’ev.” There has been a shooting in Tel Aviv.” “A young girl was stabbed to death in her bedroom in Kiryat Arba.”

And it’s true, we are a strong and mighty nation, but we have never known a day of peace since we came into being – and we are panic stricken, guilt ridden, and that fear does something to us and you can see it on the roads and in our lines and in our homes and when we vote.

We are fucked up and PTSD-riddled, angsty, angry, handwringing, nail biting people.

But still, we stay out all night and swim in warm sea water, or argue with our friends on crowded corners, or drink whiskey until sunrise or dance until our feet hurt and then stop for a minute and keep on dancing… we chose life with our arms and eyes wide open.

We are full to brimming.

We are not a normal country.

We are in pain at times, but joyful still. We make mistakes, and struggle, and defend. But we keep on moving on that spiral through history because this is where we are meant to be, and we are a miracle.