In honor of the 75th celebration of Israel, I was asked the question “What does Israel mean to you?” My answer is simple: Israel is home. As the son of an Argentinian father, who was motivated by Zionism to move to Israel at only 16 years old and a mother whose family fled Iraq for a better life, Israel defines “home” to me.
The understanding of how much my family sacrificed so that they could be Jewish in Israel emphasizes the uniqueness and importance of this place for me.
My family story is one example of Israel’s diversity and multiculturalism; an Argentinian family and an Iraqi family in the same country based on only one characteristic – the Jewish identity. They’ve built their lives from the ground up: my father joined Kibbutz Nitsanim, worked in agriculture, and served in the Air Force. My grandparents from Iraq lived in a transit camp and moved to Tel Aviv, where my grandfather worked as an accountant and my grandmother as a housewife. My mother was born in Israel, yet she knew my father through a mutual friend. They got married in 1975 and have two children – my elder brother and me.
And now, as an Israeli Jew, who left the country for Ph.D. studies in Scotland, I understand better the importance of what Israel means to me. Regardless of my feelings on this matter, being Israeli abroad raises questions ranging from the conflict to political issues to economic ones. I’m grateful for the opportunity to support Israel from abroad, tell my parents’ stories, and be part of the Jewish community that makes me feel close to what is my home – Israel.
Happy Independence Day, Israel!