Growing up in Israel for the first nine years of my life, I viewed the country like a child views her or his parents - perfect. Israel was composed only of my elementary school, the park where my siblings and I rode our bikes, the grocery store where we begged Mom for rogelach, and my grandparents' and cousins' homes. There was no Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Much like the first time you realize your parents don't run the world, I was in denial when I started learning about Israel's flaws. There are poor people and sick people and homeless people. There's corruption and crime. More recently, I've learned more about systematic and unofficial discrimination here and the indescribable complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turns out Israel isn't perfect... But which country is?
Back home in the U.S., we see conflict every day, whether about the economy, education, or any other controversial issue. We also know that the kind of "peace process" we've developed to solve them - bitter partisan fighting - accomplishes nothing. The more aggressively people argue, as well-meaning as their suggestions may be, the less that gets done. On the other hand, we know from many personal experiences the power of encouragement, a positive attitude, a strong support system, and the like.
I saw these values in our two Palestinian Israeli speakers, Forsan Hussein and Khaled Abu Toemeh. Although they both expressed strong resentment toward Israel's progress in closing the gap between treatment of Jewish Israelis and that of Palestinian Israelis, they enthusiastically declared their loyalty and allegiance to the State of Israel and maintained that when a Palestinian state is created, they will continue to live in Israel. They are pro-Israel, completely and openly, just like you and I are pro-U.S.
I think identifying as pro-Israel - actively, reasonably, and calmly working to find solutions to Israel's flaws - is the most efficient and gentle way to coax the change that is so desperately needed. Many people also argue that being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine are mutually exclusive, but the same results of a pro-Israel attitude apply to a pro-Palestine one, and together they're even more powerful.
Keeping the ultimate goal in mind, I challenge everyone to adopt this pro-Israel mindset (as well as pro-Palestine and pro-peace in general).
Meital Boim is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, studying nutrition. She was born in Israel and lived there until she was 9, so supporting Israel has always been natural for her. She joined Texans For Israel almost as soon as she set foot on campus, and it’s taught her to be a better and more effective advocate for Israel and in general, and helped her find new ways to love Israel. Meital is a news and chocolate junkie, and her goal for the next few years is to travel as much as possible.