Dear Swedish friends,
We don’t have many opportunities to get to know each other.
I live in a wonderful country: Israel. I have four little girls and have chosen to make the Jewish homeland their home. I hope they will internalize and promote the traditions, values and goals that are what makes Israel the special place that it is. What am I talking about? Some are obvious things: living Jewish lives, celebrating holidays, respecting and helping others, the poor and the weak in our own communities. I hope my kids will grow up to care about others and make the world a better place, in ways you may not know about:
The Israeli humanitarian organization ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ (SACH) has repaired the hearts of more than 2,800 children from a wide variety of countries. The organization SACH, located in Israel and staffed by Israelis, treats children from developing countries without regard to race, color, gender, religion, or financial consideration. In first week in June 2012, SACH was treating 30 children from Angola, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority (YES – Palestinian children), Tanzania, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe. Save a Child’s Heart’s mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease, and who cannot get adequate medical care in their home countries. It also works to create centers for pediatric cardiac care in these countries.
Israeli agricultural technology is helping the developing world to improve crop yields and food storage. I’m sure you know that Israeli technology is in every computer and cell phone you use, but did you know that Israeli technology and the Israeli development agency, Mashav, specifically focus on helping farmers in the developing world (e.g. in Vietnam and Senegal) on improved irrigation and increasing crop yields? Several Israeli inventions, such as drip-irrigation, dew-catching systems, potatoes that grow well in hot and dry climates are helping the poor to feed themselves instead on relying on handouts.
Israel formally recognizes 15 religions, including Islam, Bah’ai, the Druze religion, and Chaldaic and other Christian denominations. Each religious community freely practices its faith, observes its own holy days and weekly day of rest, and administers its own internal affairs. Israel protects the holy sites of all religions. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the Christian population is thriving instead of disappearing. Between 1948 and 1998, Israel’s Christian population grew fourfold, from 34,000 to 130,000. The Bah’ai, a religious group persecuted in Muslim countries, built its world center in Haifa, Israel.
Gays have full rights in Israel, don’t have to hide and even serve in the army without having to hide their sexual identity. Women have full rights in Israel and can hold any professional position, study anywhere and have always had full voting rights. Israeli Arabs are citizens with the same rights as all other citizens. There are Israeli Arabs members of parliament in the Knesset (the parliament), judges in regional courts and in the supreme court and foreign service officers in the Foreign Ministry who serve as ambassadors or consuls, in the Israeli Police Force and in the Israel Defense Forces.
This is Israel. The real Israel. This is MY Israel.
I think you should come to Israel to see that we live in a country with normal problems, like poverty and crime, and abnormal problems, like the threat of nuclear war from Iran, terrorism from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, from Lebanon and from Egypt. You’ll also see that we are a special country, a country whose diverse populations are knit together and care about each other, a country with an incredible level of joie de vivre, of living each day to the fullest, of cherishing the profane and the divine and of always pushing to do better, to be better.
I know we’d love to show you the real Israel. Please come and get to know us.