Rolene Marks

Lady Israel, we salute you!

Dear Lady Israel, Happy Birthday and may I just tell you just how fabulous you are looking at 64? You are aging gracefully and with dignity and are in no need of any botox injections to iron out your well-earned wrinkles.

You are a tiny lady but boy can you pack a mighty punch! You have earned every wrinkle and grey hair. You have faced adversity over 64 years that have seen you shed many tears over the loss of your children. Those who bravely defend you in uniform on land, sea and air and those killed by virtue of the fact that they are YOUR children. This year we count 22 993 tears for those in uniform and 2 477 for Israel’s civilians which include foreign workers. You bring comfort to the mourners and hope to those who seek your protection. You stare down a formidable enemy who seeks your destruction and many who question your legitimacy. Lady Israel, as tiny as you are, you look them in the eye and state your truth. We salute you.

With a tender hand and outstretched arms you have gathered in your children from all corners of the world, patiently understanding their differences in culture and language. You still roll out the welcome mat for those returning home. Thank goodness many by choice and not through force. Even though there are times when you are a tough task mistress to those in your care, we understand that as challenging as you are, you are also warm and generous.

You have given safe haven for those who seek asylum from persecution. You have welcomed the persecuted from Darfur and Eritrea and in your short life rescued people escaping genocide and war. Your empathy knows no borders.

When disasters and tragedies strike around the world, you are always first on site, whether it is dispensing medical or army personnel or ground breaking technologies, you bring relief too many rendered homeless or traumatized. Sometimes to those who do not acknowledge your existence or are your enemy.

Yup, you may be a fly weight in size but you pack a punch worthy of a few rounds with the greats. You have helped feed nations, save the lives of children across the globe with your medical know-how and revolutionized the way we speak to each other. You have entertained us, kept us safe and awed us with your inventions. You have greened the desert and found cures for disease. In short, you are an oasis in a vast desert.

We know you are not perfect, nobody is. Like all passionate women, you are tempestuous, unpredictable and stubborn but you welcome our varying opinions and allow us the opportunities to express ourselves. Your personality is complex and at times enigmatic but you pursue excellence and peace at all costs and with unbelievable commitment. Most often you are greatly misunderstood and the victim of untruths but it is okay, we have your back!

You personify triumph over adversity and you celebrate life with absolute conviction.

Lady Israel, tiny and potent, feisty and formidable, wear your wrinkles like badges of honour. You have earned them.

We salute you in a celebration of life. L’Chaim!!!!!!!


About the Author
Rolene Marks is a freelance journalist. commentator and broadcaster, appearing on international radio, TV and print. Rolene Marks is based in Israel and serves as World WIZO Head of Public Diplomacy and the South African Zionist Federation spokesperson, both voluntary positions.