Israeli emissary counters voices intent on harm
The luster of the Arab spring has faded, leaving millions in fear in the Middle East as sides turn against one another, but there is a common bond among the warring tribes:
They all hate Israel, says an emissary from the nation.
Israel’s adversaries are waging a public-relations war on the nation that Michal Uziyahu said is unprecedented. It’s one she worked to counter in a visit last week to Grand Junction, where she spoke to service clubs and other organizations, while meeting with the Jewish community.
Uziyahu, one of 40 emissaries from Israel to the United States, is the first female emissary of the Jewish Agency for Israel to the Jewish community of Colorado.
The Iranian threat to Israel should not be underestimated, Uziyahu said, though Iran’s antipathy for Israel is nothing new.
Declarations that Iran will welcome the destruction of Israel are “just adding to the long list of people who want to destroy me,” Uziyahu said. The last time a national leader voiced such hatred of Jews, it cost six million lives, she said, referring to the Holocaust, and “we’re not willing to take another chance.”
Iran is hardly alone, Uziyahu said, referring to calls for boycotts or divestiture from Israel as a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism.
Uzihayu can recount a life in which she was forced to leave her native Sinai as Israel surrendered land, one also in which she raised her twin sons on the border of the Gaza Strip and fretted during a rocket attack, as in “Sophie’s Choice,” which son to grab and seek shelter.
“I couldn’t pick up them both,” she said.
Israelis have about 15 seconds to seek shelter once they hear sirens alerting them to the firing of missiles into their villages.
Major cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have advanced “Iron Dome” missile systems that simultaneously fire two missiles when they’re alerted to a rocket attack. One missile takes out the rocket, the other is aimed at the location from which it was fired.
Villages, however, don’t have that kind of protection, so children attend class in rooms built under heavy concrete roofs, which are painted with pictures of flowers, smiling faces and bright colors to camouflage their true purpose of protecting children from exploding rockets, Uziyahu said.
Today she cannot look at her sons and believe they won’t have to serve in the nation’s armed forces, she said.
Palestinians deserve their own nation, Uziyahu said, so long as they recognize the right of Israel to exist, she said.
“I see myself as a pro-Palestinian person,” she said, so long as Israel is recognized.
While Israel remains largely defined in the context of its unfriendly neighbors, the country has made vast strides that should be recognized and copied elsewhere, she said.
“We are the only country that has less desert than it did at its founding,” Uzihayu said.
Israel recycles 80 percent of its water, has pioneered desalination and offers help to its neighbors who are willing to accept it.
“Israel has a solution,” Uziyahu said, “Come and learn how to live in the desert.”