The Next Chapter: A Defiant Flag, a Wavy Sea and the Boy from Baltimore

In entering a contest to meet the Israeli President, I was tasked to ask myself: What is Israel to me in ten to ninety seconds. Despite the politics which often engulf Israel, and our raging discussions about Israel, I wanted to bring myself back to the centered and blissful passion which eventually inflamed me. I wrote this piece and record a video of it. Please feel free to share the video link at the bottom.

Here it is. Here is what Israel is to me today as an (almost) twenty-two year old activist who found himself on Jaffa’s ancient coast in 2009:

Looking out onto Tel Aviv from Jaffa, I see a thin metal pole coming out from the ocean with an Israeli flag tied to it.

The flag stood despite the sea of waves, crashing and attempting to drown it. Unshaken, somehow, the flag pole, and the truth tied to it, stayed in place.

It was this truth that electrified me in 2008 on my first trip to Israel and every summer following, as if there was a magnetic force field bringing me back East, towards Medinat Yisra’el, towards my core, my moral compass, my identity, my life, and hopefully, towards my future.

I remember that blue and white blowing in the wind of a wavy Mediterranean sea and I see the personification of Zionism through the prism of Israel’s first city of Tel Aviv; even today, not yet fully built, yet still shining. Despite our obstacles and despite the sirens of last summer still ringing in Israel’s ears- Tel Aviv and all of Israel still stands, and it stands even taller.

Israel is that overarching stubborn Jewish will which transformed from Hertzel’s dream to Ben-Gurion and the flourishing imperfection of the democracy that followed.

Israel is that flag amidst a storm that is still standing despite the rapid current, but still finding that life and radiating that life, not only for herself but for the entire world, regardless of the continued condemnation and defamation from the darkest of nations.

Israel’s establishment and continued thriving survival only proves that when the Jewish mind dares to dream our world becomes a better place.

Please share my recorded reading of my love letter to Israel:

About the Author
Justin Hayet is the recipient of CAMERA's 2015 David Bar Ilan Award for Outstanding Campus Activism and is featured in Jerusalem U's newest film "Crossing the Line 2."
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