My name is Eden Peri. I am a fifth grader in the Bar Lev school, and I came here tonight to tell you what being Israeli means to me.
Being Israel in my eyes is the unity between the IDF and Israeli citizens. If there is one thing that characterizes us, it’s this special connection that can’t be taken for granted. During the most difficult of times, the nation supports and embraces our soldiers with a giant hug. Not too long ago, during the summer a year and a half ago, you surely remember Operation Protective Edge. What I remember most about that war is the number of care packages we made to send to our soldiers, the number of people who risked their lives to go visit and to hug soldiers who were dear to them.
Even in tragic circumstances, this connection is exceptional. I remember the thousands of people who attended the funerals of soldiers they had never met, especially “lone soldiers”–those who came abroad to defend Israel, leaving their families behind.
I want to emphasize something else as well—prisoner exchan ges. There is no other country ,in the world that is willing to pay such a high price—even crazy and disproportional we might call it—anything to bring home our soldiers. Whether alive or dead—we must bring them home to their families. As illogical and difficult as it is, we’re willing to trade more than 100 dead of our enemies, and 2 living terrorists, just to bring a corpse home, like in the case of Ehud and Eldad who were killed in Lebanon (to say nothing of the hundreds we freed for Gilad Shalit to return home alive).
In conclusion, this exceptional, unique connection between the citizen and the army is what truly distinguishes our nation. That is being Israeli to me.