As the beginning of 2016 has emerged, I find that I am able to define myself in a whole new light. I now identify myself as a passionate Zionist, but my trip with ZOA has made me much more than someone with passion, but rather someone with knowledge.
Rather than knowing that I should advocate for Israel, I now know how to properly advocate for Israel. I understand that there is more to Israel than simply being a part of one of the world’s most violent and sinister regions. Rather, I understand from personal interactions that Israel consists of IDF soldiers simply defending Israel’s sovereignty from terrorist organizations. I understand that there are farmers who want nothing more than to be able to tend to their fields without fear of being robbed and harassed. I understand that there are children who want to live with innocence and joy, but are forced to be fifteen seconds away from a rocket potentially killing them at all time. I understand that there are Palestinians who have no ill feelings towards Israelis in the same workplace, as they simply want to make a living with their coworkers rather than make a war. Lastly, I understand that Israel is a country that defends LGBT rights, women’s rights, and minority rights, more so than any other nation in the region.
With all of this considered, I now know that I must show this side of Israel to the public in order to display a more accurate picture of the reality of the country. This is not to say that there are not legitimate criticisms of Israel as a whole, but the lack of presenting Israel as a nation that fights for democracy and human rights can lead to a one-sided opinion that is quite misinformed. I know that if I show this side of Israel to people, it will show portions of Israel that most people do not hear about and this will show people why I fight for Israel. I fight for freedom, I fight for democracy, and I fight for human rights. That is why I am a Zionist and that is why 2016 is not just the start of a new year for me, but rather the start of a new movement.