There is not a single moment in any day that I do not appreciate the State of Israel.
And there is not a single day in any year that I not revel in its joy, take pride in its achievements or cry in its suffering.
This is a land of contrasts and a land of the impossible where the normal rules of societies don’t seem to apply. This is a land of a people who have defied the very nature of human history itself – who have stared into the endless abyss of darkness and come out in light.
In the space of just 8 days, we remember our brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents murdered in Europe. And a week later, we remember our people again – those who fought and died in defence of our people and those who were murdered for simply living their daily lives.
And finally after all this tragedy, we remember and celebrate one of the greatest events not just in Jewish history, but human history – when an historic and ancient people returned to their homeland after thousands of years of exile.
People sometimes say I can be too idealistic about Israel – that I see only the good and not the bad.
Perhaps I can be at times, but that’s because I know that Israel is not like any other country.
It’s a Jewish country – the only one on earth – and that uniqueness is something special for all Jews of the world. It’s something we should selfishly guard, for it represents the one place on earth where Jews can reach their full potential as a people.
In its rivers and in its mountains and in its soil lies our ancient roots tying us to this place, roots so strong and so deep that thousands of years of persecution and forced expulsion could not wipe away. Many dictators and empires have tried to forcibly remove us from this place from the distant past until today and yet we remain – not just surviving but thriving.
The connection between Jews and their homeland is far stronger than any country or organisation that constantly pass fake resolutions that deem us illegal in our own country, for they are meaningless and are simply words on paper that will ultimately fade with time. But we do not fade and we do not disappear either, for the bond they try to break is unbreakable.
Israel is more than just a country – it’s an idea, a promise. It’s the story about one Jew and the story about all Jews. It’s the story about how a small people made their way home and in doing so defied the great ancient and modern powers. It’s about how the will of an individual could change the course of history itself.
Many want to compare Israel to other countries, but it shouldn’t be compared, because by doing so is a failure to understand the long and arduous journey the Jewish people have taken. And although it may not be perfect, the belief in it remains as strong as ever.
I feel lucky to be alive at this point in history – for it is an honour to be part of a people who strive for the future, powered by our ancestors of the past. It brings me comfort to know that the State of Israel exists – when for so much of our history, it was just a faraway dream, a hope, a fantasy.
But for us – living in this time – it isn’t. It is real and it is beautiful and it is awe inspiring, which is why on this Yom Haatzmaut, I’m not going to simply celebrate a country’s anniversary, but rather an idea that has survived through the ravages of time, an idea that Jews, whose destiny was once controlled by others, are no longer powerless.
I am going to celebrate a beautiful country and a beautiful people with a destiny that continues to be written.