Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, the apple of God’s eye continues to twinkle

My prayer is that life-saving school backpacks will never have to be used as a protective device.

Earl Cox 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Earl Cox 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As a regular visitor to Israel and one who has lived among the Jewish people although I am not Jewish, I am continually amazed at how this land and its people manage to maintain their sense of balance, direction and joie de vivre in spite of the fact that they are surrounded by enemies on every side.
Israelis continually confront crisis after crisis, yet somehow their spirits remain high and their collective moral compass stays true to their love of freedom and democracy and their faith in God.
Israel’s list of woes is almost unending. It is continually attacked by terrorists and is the only civilized country in the world whose very existence is threatened by its hate-filled neighbors on a daily basis. It is the subject of worldwide divestment campaigns and is condemned and maligned regularly by the worldwide media.
Yet, in spite of the emotional stress and turmoil inflicted on this tiny nation, Israel is flourishing.
During the recent holidays, I again had the privilege of being in Jerusalem. Restaurants were full. The streets were crowded with pedestrians, cyclists, tourists and shoppers. People gathered in the streets by the thousands, not to protest or create violence but to sing, dance and play music celebrating life, family, friends and faith.
For the past 14 years I have been broadcasting on radio and television and penning articles for newspapers and publications attempting to communicate to the international community Israel’s side of the story. It’s frustrating for me as a Christian journalist to be constantly bombarded by the international media with stories portraying Israel as the villain and the reason there is no peace in the Middle East.
The fact of the matter is, Israel is the only oasis of stability in the region.
While being forced to live in very rough neighborhood, somehow Israelis manage to carry on celebrating life and not death, birthing children instead of strapping bombs around the bodies of their little ones and sending them off as homicide bombers.
Israel is contributing to the betterment of mankind while its enemies are busy destroying.
Israelis lead the world in the advancement of science, technology, healthcare and agriculture, to name only a fraction of their contributions to the world. Their sense of belonging and connection miraculously allows them to rise above their circumstances, creating positives where, naturally speaking, one would expect negatives.
Yet Israel’s existence is somewhat paradoxical.
While joyously building succot, dancing in the streets embracing life and hoping for peace, Israelis must also be about the business of building bomb shelters and distributing gas masks and making sure their defense forces are polished and ready.
As a supporter of Israel, I join in its celebration of life and also in its desire to protect its citizens from terrorist aggression. This past week I had the privilege of donating a second shipment of ballistic- proof backpacks to schoolchildren in Ashkelon.
In a ceremony held at the Ashkelon Municipal Building with the city’s mayor, Benny Vaknin, I expressed a bittersweet message to the children and their teachers that it is such a joy to bring gifts to the people of Israel, but the bitter part is that these particular gifts are needed to protect innocent lives.
My prayer is that these marvelous, life-saving inventions will never have to be used as a protective device but rather only to carry books and lunches.
Long live Israel and may it continue to be a light unto the nations! The writer is Israel’s goodwill ambassador to Christian and Jewish communities around the world.