I love Israel. It’s as simple….and as complicated, as that. I loved Israel as a pork-eating child who had real pride in being Jewish, but no time for “old-fashioned” religion. I loved Israel as a settler who carried a book in one hand and a gun in the other. I loved Israel when I left some years later, my messianic dreams in ruins. And I love Israel today, as one who visits multiple times a year but makes his home, for the time being at least, here in America.
It’s a love that’s real enough to admit Israel’s many flaws. It’s a love that is deep enough to miss many others, I am sure. And it’s a love which enhances the life of the one who feels it, at least as much as that which I love. Isn’t that how we all want to be loved and how we all try to love, anyway? I hope so.

Israel need not be perfect for me to love her, just as my parents, children or friends need be for me to love them. And I hope that they feel the same way, or I am in big trouble. As would we all be, if those from whom we sought love demanded our perfection as the price.
After 61 years and a population topping seven million, there is much to begin celebrating tonight as Israel Independence day commences. I celebrate the most free and open nation in the Middle East. I celebrate the right of the Jewish people to build and grow a good society. I celebrate the largest stage on which to play out our most deeply-held values. I celebrate the blessings of Jewishness in the 21st century, many of which would be impossible without the State of Israel.
Happy Birthday Israel,
Though I remain filled with questions about the wisdom of much of what you do, I love you very much.

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