”We can walk hand in hand, be who we want to be, who we are”

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.
Dramatic huh?
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.


”One of the world’s most exciting and vibrant cities”


My name is Baruch, I’m 35 years old and I was born in and live in Israel.

Yes, Israel! You probably are imagining that I live in the desert, ride a camel while holding an M-16 and battling hundreds of Arabs, but that’s not quite my life.

I live in Tel Aviv, one of the world’s most exciting and vibrant cities, where I manage a clothing store in a shopping mall located in the city centre.  I look and dress just like anyone in Europe or the U.S.  I live with my partner, we’ve been together for 12 years – I’m gay and that is totally accepted in Israel. In fact, Tel Aviv is considered one of the ten best gay-friendly cities in the world!

Tel Aviv is ranked third in the world for the number of bars per capita, as well as for the number of sushi restaurants! The Tel Aviv beaches are gorgeous and amazing and are packed during the summer months – even during the winter, sometimes, when the temperature hits 20°C.

So, when are you coming to visit us? I can promise you’ll have an amazing time. I’d be happy to show you around!



Photo credit: Yehonatan Levi.

”You wouldn’t accept an entire Jewish nation into your country, would you?”

My name is Hadar. I am a musician from Israel.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to write this letter but here it is.
I know what the Swedish people think of our country. I have a feeling if you knew what we hear about you, your ears would be burning. But this is how the world works… People with interests blindfold us into thinking we know what goes on on the other side of the ocean. Their interest is to divide the world and turn us against each other.

When a pro-palestinian organization decides to boycott Israel’s culture, he doesn’t realize this makes no difference for the governments at all. The only people that get hurt are exactly that: the people (the same people who posted a mass campaign titled: ”We love you Iran, we would never bomb you”) and let me assure you, if it does happen (god help us all) it won’t be because we are bloodthirsty people.

Let me give you a different perspective on things: in WW2 the Jewish people were almost wiped out by humans. Not by hurricanes, or earthquakes. Humans…
When the war was over, it was obvious we wouldn’t go back to Germany, Poland, Ukraine etc. So we came to Israel. You wouldn’t accept an entire Jewish nation into your country, would you? And yes, people lived here while we were away (for 2000 years)… but the world was built by immigrants. And so did we. We built this country and made it to the developed country that it is.
If you came here to see both sides, you would see how complex this conflict is. It’s not black or white, do or die, leave or be kicked out. For the most part, we do what we need to protect ourselves, it’s the most basic right for a nation. Isn’t it?

In every country in the world, there will be radicals who will bring disasters on its nation. You don’t seem to think the war in Darfur is as terrible as the conflict in Israel, however there has been a genocide going on in Darfur for years!! We even give shelter for their refugees…
And you’re right, sometimes we are just wrong. Like your government, like any country who has any conflict. But to judge an entire nation because of YOUR media’s propaganda is as unfair as convincing bands to cancel their shows in Israel or not accept Israeli acts to world events. What does music or art in general have to do with political views??

I can only urge you to open your eyes, don’t believe everything you hear, open your mind to other possibilities and maybe you’ll realize what you think you know is so far from the truth.. We are gay friendly (Tel Aviv is the most liberal city in the world), we offer our assistance for any country who needs it (fires, earthquakes, tsunamis), we send our doctors to return eye sight for thousands of blind men, women and children in far away villages around the world, we develop technologies that would help our next generation. So it can’t all be bad right?

I wish us all peaceful times and great music 🙂

Just a musician

”Before you say one more thing about Israel – come here!”

Hej kära vänner!

So… Originally I wanted to write this letter in Swedish, but I gave up on the idea since my Swedish is far from being perfect and since I want to convey my message as coherent as I can.

I read some of the letters here, and they’re very touching letters about the conflicts here in Israel and about the terror attacks and all of the threats we are dealing with from all of our neighbors. Unfortunately, our neighbors are not Norway, Finland and Denmark, to say the least :-).
I do have a lot to say about the political aspects, about the European hypocrisy and the ”human rights” activists, who are falling into the trap of Hamas and terror organizations. I have a family in the South of Israel, and my brother spent his birthday in a shelter, and in general I have much to say about the conflict.


I don’t want to focus on the negative and problematic sides, but on the positive ones. Because that’s how I am. I guess that most Israelis and Jews are like that – ”everything will be alright” (”Allt ordnar sig”). Maybe because my people have been through so much…

In order to truly understand the mentality, the way of thinking, the culture, the conflict and all what you might thought or heard in the news about Israel – you just have to come here. There were so many people who completely changed their mind about Israel after visiting. There is so much ignorance in the Western world in the Israeli subject, it’s just unbelievable. In my four visits in Sweden, there were Swedes who thought the language we speak is Jerusalem, some thought that Israel is in Africa and were surprised to see that I’m white; others thought women have to work with their faces covered, and so on. The only way to fight that ignorance is to come, see by yourselves and tell your friends the truth. Så kom!

Before I tell you what Israel is for me, I’ll tell you a bit about myself. My name is Dan, I’m 21 years old and I live in Tel Aviv. I was born in Moscow and my parents immigrated to Israel when I was one year old. I grew up in Be’er Sheva, a city in the South of Israel. I moved to Tel Aviv just after high school because I got accepted to Law studies at Tel Aviv University. This year I’m finishing the fourth and last year of my degree, and afterwards I go to the army to work in the law unit there. I speak Hebrew, English, Russian, Spanish (from TV shows I watched when I was a kid) and some Swedish. My romance with Sweden started a long time ago, in the beginning with the Eurovision and the Melodifestivalen. Since March 2009, I visited Sweden 4 times and also started studying the language. I really like your country, the culture, the people, the music and even the weather (probably it’s the Russian genes…).

But anyway, we are here to talk about Israel. Do you remember Mika’s song, ”Grace Kelly”? It has a sentence – ”I could be brown, I could be blue…”- If someone would ask me what the magic of Israel is, and why people fall in love with it, I would answer, without any doubt, that it is its diversity.

Israel can be the Holy Land, with all of the sacred places for Jews, Christians and Muslim people and you can feel the Holy Spirit in the different holidays, as well as during the weekends in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Safed, and more. Jewish Rabbis are praying in the Western Wall, Priests and nuns are walking down Via Dolorosa road in the old city of Jerusalem, and Muslims are looking at the beauty of the Dome of the Rock. If there is a G-d watching us from above, he is definitely overlooking at Jerusalem and the holy places.

But at the same time, alongside with the religion and the tradition, we can see at the same Jerusalem city bars and pubs and night clubs, celebrating the miracle of life until dawn. If you go a bit west you will find Tel Aviv, the most liberal city in the Middle East. With endless night life, it earned the name ”the city that never sleeps”. Pride parades, amazing beaches and a beautiful port, big club scene, Parties – all of those contributed to the image that Tel Aviv got – young, funky and maybe a bit of a crazy city!

Israel is known for also other unique places: The Dead Sea, where you can lie down and relax. Go in the footsteps of the heroes in Masada, explore the Negev desert (and the craters there – a night walk in the desert with all the stars above is an amazing experience!), look at what is left in Caesarea, use Israel’s ski resort (yes, we also have snowy mountains) in the Hermon Mountain, swim in the sea of Galilee, enjoy the water in the Mediterranean sea all across it’s shore – including Haifa and the outstanding Baha’i gardens, dive and swim with dolphins in the Red Sea, in the beach of Eilat, Israel’s southern city, and much more.

It has everything for everyone: different religions trips, families, young travelers, adventurous people, straight, gay, and practically – each and every one of you will fall in love with Israel and will find what he likes. We truly made the desert blossom. Once you also meet the people and communicate and listen – you can understand the truth and the beauty of it. You can find a lot of information and pictures once you search the stuff I put in bold online, but I also made a collage that shows the different extraordinary places in Israel.

This is Israel

Other than the different cities and religions in Israel, another aspect of this diversity is the diversity in languages, people and ethnicities from all around the world. In every corner you will find a mix of a truly Moroccan spirit, the Polish or ”Yiddishe Mame”, French accent, flags of Russia, Hungarian Kiortosh, Egyptian pride, American youngsters, Argentinian meat and ”Assado”, and much more. The reason is of course the gathering of all of the Jews around the world in this small country. I think that makes life much more interesting. People from different backgrounds, with different mentalities meet, know each other and even get together. It can also be very funny and amusing, when for example a Russian lady tries to find her way in the line to a Falafel store. No wonder it’s called the ”Melting Pot” of the Israeli society!

The diversity is also shown in political views; from very right political parties, to the most left. There is a joke about Jews – ”Two Jews, three opinions”. It seems that you can’t describe the Israeli inner political conflicts in a better way. As a democracy, Israel allows all inoffensive opinions to be expressed (with Arab Muslims in the parliament). That’s why also a lot of political parties rise and fall; because they had the illusion they could unite most of the people into one opinion. Due to the different background and mentality of every person, it’s almost impossible.

In any case, please, before you say one more thing about Israel, or before you judge Israel because of something you heard in the media, come here. We’ll show you around. 🙂

I will be happy to get in contact with you, if someone also plans to come or just to ask any question – you can find me on Facebook (Dan Erukhimovich).

Shalom och hej,


Jag ska tala om endast ett ämne – mänskliga rättigheter

Kära svensk,

Jag är mycket glad över möjligheten att tala direkt till dig – utan media, utan mellanhänder och utan trasiga telefoner. Jag skulle vilja berätta lite för dig om mitt fantastiska land – Israel – och om dess människor och grannar. Jag är säker på att du har läst/hört/sett en massa i media, om oss och om konflikten här, och om media är din enda källa till information så kan jag med ganska stor säkerhet säga att du ogillar oss. Jag skulle vilja ge dig några saker att tänka på, saker som när du tänkt igenom dem ordentligt, får dig att inse att vi inte är ’the bad guys’, utan snarare tvärtom, vi är ett ljus i mörkret, i denna råa och brutala del av världen. Jag hoppas att du kommer att kunna ta till dig vad jag har att säga, helt enkelt för att jag tror att våra länder delar samma värderingar.

Jag ska tala om endast ett ämne – mänskliga rättigheter. Inte judiska rättigheter. Inte palestinska rättigheter. Inte muslimska rättigheter. Utan mänskliga rättigheter. Om det så gäller en kvinna, en homosexuell, en kristen, en mörkhyad jude eller en hinduisk lesbisk kvinna.

Du har förmodligen hört i media att Israel förtrycker palestinierna och att palestinierna lider svårt under ”israeliskt styre”. Först och främst, de största förtryckarna är de styrande i Gaza själva. Medan jag skriver detta brev till dig behandlas hela den kvinnliga befolkningen i Gaza som handelsvaror. Hedersmord äger rum regelbundet, och kvinnor kan, så klart, inte  själva välja livskamrat. Allt enligt sharialagarna. 

Hur kan någon hävda att hans mänskliga rättigheter kränks, medan han våldtar, mördar och lemlästar sina egna döttrar, systrar och mödrar? Tror du att en sådan person skulle vara rättfram och ärlig om sina handlingar? Eller om någonting överhuvudtaget?
Människor som menar att homosexuella ska avrättas, enbart på grund av vilka de är – kan dessa människor ens låtsas vara domare beträffande mänskliga rättigheter och friheter?

Älskade svensk, jag skulle älska att ta dig med på en tur i mitt underbara och frihetsälskande land. Att visa dig vad vi har åstadkommit här, och inte minst, introducera dig för människorna som ligger bakom det hela – människor som sätter stort värde på både sin personliga och den kollektiva friheten. Människor som inser att för att bli accepterad och behandlad som en jämbördig, måste man behandla andra på samma sätt. Människor som förstår att för att kunna njuta av friheten, får du absolut inte kränka någon annans frihet.

Jag skulle vilja krydda till min monolog med roliga fakta som kommer att stärka mitt fall:

*) Det enda landet i Mellanöstern där arabiska medborgare har full politisk frihet (att rösta OCH att bli röstade på) är Israel, vilket inte är så konstigt då vi är den enda demokratin i området. Och om du undrar, apropå det där med ”bli röstade på”, så ja, det finns araber i det israeliska parlamentet.

*) Israel är öppet för SAMTLIGA religioner, vi respekterar varje person av varje tro. Mest för att vi respekterar personen först, och med det följer att vi respekterar vad denna person tror på, om det så är islam, kristendom eller buddhism. Så länge en person respekterar människorna omkring sig, så är han mycket välkommen. För att bevisa det så kan jag säga att vi har massor av kyrkor, moskéer och synagogor – och inga begränsningar angående var sådana kan byggas, eller vem eller när någon kan be i dem. Bara en snabb påminnelse – saudierna tillåter inte icke-muslimer att besöka Mecca (om det så är en kristen, eller G-d förbjude, en jude).

*) Kvinnor i Israel är jämlika män. Vi har kvinnliga piloter i militären, kvinnliga chefer på de högsta posterna och vi har naturligtvis också kvinnor i politiken (även arabiska kvinnor!). Vi hade till och med en kvinnlig premiärminister, d.v.s. statens mest inflytelserika person.

*) Homosexuella i Israel är jämlika. I militären och i både den offentliga och den privata sektorn väljs människor in efter sina personliga egenskaper. Alla bedöms efter sina egenskaper och alla är lika inför lagen (det finns till och med antidiskrimineringslagar angående detta).

Så, mina vänner, bara tänk på detta för ett ögonblick. Vem är mer benägen att kränka de mänskliga rättigheterna och att ignorera vanlig mänsklig etik? Ett land som respekterar och vårdar mänskliga friheter i allt det gör och på alla områden – barns, kvinnors, homosexuellas och religiösa minoriteters rättigheter är heliga – eller en som vanvårdar sitt eget folk på alla punkter? Kan palestinierna verkligen predika för Israel (och hela västvärlden) om mänskliga rättigheter, medan de mördar sina döttrar, använder barn som mänskliga sköldar samt förtrycker sexuella och religiösa minoriteter?

Jag hoppas verkligen att även om jag inte kunde få dig att ändra åsikt så kanske jag åtminstone kunde få dig att tänka på saken ur ett annat perspektiv, och kanske väckte jag en lust hos dig, att ta reda på mer på egen hand.

Fred, och vi ses nästa år i Jerusalem. 🙂


Read this letter in English.
Fri översättning: Kim Milrell.