Hi Kim, first, I would like to thank you for your support for Israel, so it is a thank you from me and from others that still don’t know you.
My name is Itay, 27 years old, former Extreme Ultra-Orthodox Jew and gay.
Where should I start? There are so many things that pop up in my mind now.
Israel, a small country maybe of the size of a county in the USA, Israel, a place where all Jews around the world feel safe, Israel, the only DEMOCRATIC country in the Middle East, Israel, the ONLY country in the Middle East where the LGBT community can actually live.
We are not perfect, far far away from it, but we do our best in the endless war for life and peace.
So many things people think about Israel, so many and we, we are so few against the world.
I work at the fire department, in my free time I love to study more about my country, my beloved one.
When I was Ultra-Orthodox I was in group called ”Neturei Karta”, you know them, those who ”make love” with Jew haters.
Of course they are just a few here in Israel but they remind me more than all why I love this country.
In times of war I find myself sometimes crying, not because I am afraid, not because I don’t know where I live, only because I feel tired, tired from the hunt against us from the beginning of our history, the pain is endless mostly because the world is deceived, blind, and sometimes even support terrorism.
I can’t describe the feelings, I can’t describe the strength you need when you know lots of countries see you and hate you just because you are Jewish, the media love to show that the reason why we are so hated is because we are Zionists, this is not true and it is about time people will learn before they judge and pointing a finger to us, we are hated only and only because we are Jews, we are hated only because we are Democrats, we are hated only because we can.
Golda Meir one of our PM said :
“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
We tried, and we are still trying, in the last 2 decades our most efforts went to Defensive operations, the Dome, giving up our lands and so on and on, moreover Gaza strip get electricity from Israel, Gaza strip gets Humanitarian equipment from Israel, Gaza strip gets oil from Israeli gas stations (different name, Israeli owners), in Israel there are members in our Government that are Arabs and choosing the other side and they still live in Israel and gain every month salary from the Jewish people.
And still, no one from us (Israelis and Palestinians) want blood, casualties or war zones.
We, like you, are people who want to build a house, plant a tree, who want to love and live in dignity, in empathy, as human beings, as free people.
We more than all want that our taxes will not go to security.
We want it for us, for our development, for our success, for our families, for our elders and kids, for the few years a person has on this earth.
My reality is why I decided to study Political science and Middle East studies at the university. It is in many ways my redemption for who I was in the past.
Well no, this is just one side of the story, the other one is stunning.
As a gay person in Israel I feel free to be who I am, of course it is maybe not ”perfect” like in some European countries, but hey we are not Europe but we develop fast, even in the closest societies in Israel people start to hear and understand.
We can walk hand in hand, be who we want to be, who we are.
We can do parades and getting more rights (and we succeed in it with every passing year) to live and love.
Israel for me is : Warm people, in every size, color or shape.
Markets, streets, views, beaches, stores, buildings, deserts, smells, SUN, studies, parties, beautiful people, cultures, tastes, smells and also free religion for all.
So You, the one who reads it, and has doubts in what I say, Come.
Let me show you, you are wrong, let me show you that we are dealing with things that many others don’t, that we have something to offer and we have things that you even might love.
And, even if you decide not give us a chance, I love you, just because you tried.