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Representing Israel

May 14, 2015

Shalom,

As I stepped on the plane in Israel destined for Washington D.C. two weeks ago, I must admit that I felt a little nervous. With all of the rising tensions between the American and Israeli administrations, for the first time ever I felt nervous flying to Washington because I am an Israeli citizen – not that I was scared for my physical security, but was wary about the possible negative social implications of introducing myself to people as an Israeli.

During the 12 hour flight to America, horrible videos which I have seen online of anti-Israel protests ran through my mind. For a fleeting moment I thought about telling people I met in America that I was from Chicago instead of Israel, in order to avoid confrontation.

But then I remembered the big sign everyone who boards a flight at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv sees hanging on the wall. “When you travel abroad,” it says, “you are a goodwill ambassador for the state of Israel – represent us well.”

So I closed my eyes, turned my heart to the Lord, and asked Him for the wisdom and strength to represent my homeland properly. I asked Him to put supportive, positive people in my path, people who would help me fulfill my dream of bonding the American and Israeli people in brotherhood and friendship. And, as always, when I turned to God He faithfully answered.

“Tell people you are from Israel,” God placed in my heart. “You have the ability to give the people and State of Israel a good name – be a light unto the nations.”

I sat exhausted in the back of a cab on my way to the hotel in Washington DC, when the driver began speaking to me. “Where are you from?” he asked. “I’m from Israel,” I replied, holding my breath, wondering what his response would be. “Wow! I love Israel,” he replied. And for the entire remainder of that 40-minute drive, we shared stories of our homelands – he told me about Vietnam, and I told him about Israel.

As I exited the cab at the hotel, he said, with a firm handshake and a warm smile, “We are brothers and sisters. We all want the same thing: freedom.” And, indeed, he was exactly correct.

My first day in America was exciting and inspiring, as my prayers were answered and God placed exactly the right people in my path, from the friendly cab driver to the strangers I spoke to in the hotel elevator. But the first day was the easy day. It was on my second day in D.C. that I had to boldly represent my people on Capitol Hill.

I tossed and turned all night, anticipating that I might be met with rejection and hate from people like BDS and other anti-Israel activists. After all, from the way the news paints it, Israel has lots of vocal enemies and critics in D.C.

Yet none of that hatred materialized. I encountered no anti-Israel activists on the way to my speaking engagement, and when I entered the event room on Capitol Hill at the educational and advocacy event on Religious Persecution in the Middle East, everyone surrounded me with words of support, love, and encouragement.

Penny Nance, president of the Concerned Women for America, greeted me with her stunning smile, a warm hug, and lots of love. The popular Erick Stakelbeck from CBN and other prestigious networks was so kind and supportive that I just wanted to hug him. And Walid Phares, the brilliant world renowned expert on terrorism, stood with me in patience and warmth, asking me deep and interesting questions about myself and my homeland.

“I feel at home here,” I thought to myself, laughing about my previous fears of coming to Capitol Hill as an Israeli Jewish woman. And, indeed, that’s how it should be.

Israel and America are the greatest allies. We need each other. What happens in Israel is felt in America, and vice versa. We are branches of the same tree, representing values, faith, justice, and freedom. The Christian community in Israel is thriving unlike in any other country in the Middle East, just as the Jewish community is thriving in America, unlike any place in the world except for Israel.

Israel and America are not only allies; we are brothers and sisters. We give each other life.

As I sat at the panel on Capitol Hill and spoke passionately about Israel, there were only smiles, cheers, and words of encouragement coming from the VIP audience of advisors to congressmen, board members of large organizations, and involved individuals seeking knowledge and tools to further the relationship between Israel and America, as well as Christians and Jews.

My two week trip to America left me with a renewed sense of hope for the future. The world might look bleak and the leaders might look confused and misled, but there are millions of individuals who realize the value of strengthening the Israel-America bond, and having the Christian and Jewish communities stand together.

As I board my flight home to Israel, I am reminded of a stark fact; not only am I an advocate and goodwill ambassador for Israel when I travel to America, but I have a real responsibility to tell everyone I meet in Israel of the reality in America which I experienced – the America which truly stands for freedom and democracy and is dedicated to stand with Israel and the Jewish people.

Thank you, friends in America, for giving the people of Israel hope and friendship during these difficult and historic times! “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

Thank you, my friends, for making possible this miraculous return of God’s people to the Holy Land!

Yael

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, FSU, ELDERLY WOMAN

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