10 good reasons to love Israel

We are a nation that complains – about absolutely everything. But there are wonderful things about this country we can be proud of.

The citizens of this country really like to complain.
About everything. On the occasion of the state’s 63rd birthday, here are 10 reasons not to.
1. The weather – It’s true that we could use a little more rain, and it’s true that sometimes it’s a bit dry. But people from all over the world fly thousands of miles to enjoy this country’s weather.
2. Happy people – We like to criticize and protest, but that doesn’t stop us from smiling. Even if we are a bit abrasive and manners aren’t exactly our forte, we’re happy people. We even ranked 7th out of 124 states in a ‘happiness index’ conducted by the Gallup institute recently. Israelis will besmirch their surroundings, but will sing out loud, “Am Israel hai!”
3. Kol Israel arevim ze laze [All the people of Israel are responsible for one another] – Israelis shine in hours of crises. They are unparalled in lending a helping hand to friends – and strangers! – in need.
4. The food – In its small space, Israel contains the cuisine, tastes and smells of the entire world. Israeli food is the best in the world and we boast some great restaurants, even without the prestigious Michelin stars.
5. Culture – We are a small country, but rich in culture; the Jewish people are called the “People of the Book,” but have also proven themselves as a nation of culture of every type. Israeli theaters have much to be proud of, even compared to their Broadway counterparts; our movies always succeed in surprising us anew; Israeli writers are read all over the world. Although only 63, Israel is a growing cultural power to be reckoned with.
6. The Israeli mind – We criticize the education system; there’s always room for improvement. In spite of this, in the past few years there have been five Israeli Nobel Prize winners, and our hi-tech industry is flourishing thanks to our young people with sharp, original minds. A real startup nation!
7. A melting pot – There is no other place in the world where young people from such diverse backgrounds go into the army and come out as close as brothers and sisters. Sixty-three years after the establishment of the state, the IDF is still the melting pot of Israel, where all sectors meet, connect and receive equal opportunity.
8. Scenery – Snow on Mount Hermon, a desert in the Negev and in the middle of the country, mountains, sea and plains. So many different types of scenery, all within two hours’ drive. How many other countries offer the entire world at one’s fingertips?
9. Jerusalem – Yes, I’m biased. I was born in this city, grew up there and have lived there my entire life.
Jerusalem’s character, the alleyways and smells – make it the most amazing city, and no one can convince me otherwise.
10. The State of Israel – It’s our Israeliness. It’s our constant conflict of traditions, foods, cultures and customs.
We are strong yet moral, proud of our image even though we don’t always know how to define it. We complain about the state, but we are always ready to defend it fearlessly.
Israel is the home of each and every one of us, and the collective home of us all.
The writer is chairman of the Kadima faction in the Knesset.
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