As Israel celebrates 70 years of modern existence, those of us who stand for her are inspired. But so, too, are those who live there. One such man is Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who was born in Jerusalem and has spent his life serving his country, first in the IDF during the Six-Day War of 1967 and then as a politician and public servant. Writing at The Times of Israel, President Rivlin tells how the Jewish state is a light unto the world, as well as the light of his own life:
I want to start by wishing you all a very happy Independence Day. As I have said clearly, I believe that Israel’s special milestone is a celebration for the whole world. Because, today, we are not just marking the dream of restoring Jewish independence in our ancestral homeland, and we are not just celebrating all the great achievements of the last 70 years. Today, we celebrate 70 years of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. For seven decades, Israel has held high the torch of freedom and democracy in a difficult region. Surrounded by enemies and against all odds, we have been — and continue to be — guided by these values as the world’s only Jewish and democratic state.
But we know that we could never have done all this without our friends, both Jews and non-Jews, all around the world, who have dedicated their lives to building the State of Israel. We are grateful today especially for all those who stand up for Israel every day...
In Israel, I have welcomed world leaders from the United States, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia. All these leaders and representatives from around the world also have something in common: they are amazed and greatly appreciative of all we have achieved in just 70 years. From water technologies to cybersecurity, from academic research to medical breakthroughs, from agriculture to clean energy — Israel continues to inspire the world, and the people of Israel continue to inspire me.
Seventy years is a long time for a person, but a short time for a people — especially a people who have such a long and rich history. But as we face our challenges, and build upon the opportunities of today, it is my wish that, together with you, Israel will continue to grow and develop for the benefit of all peoples, all over the world.