This week, our President, Shimon Peres, celebrated his 90th birthday, followed by the 2013 Presidential Conference, named "Facing Tomorrow." More than a joyful week of celebration for our nation, this past week gave us, Israelis, a glance of a utopic fantasy.
The guest list of Peres's birthday party contained many well-known names in the global, western pop-culture - Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barbra Streisand and Robert De-Niro, to name a few. They all came to celebrate the birthday of the "oldest leader in the world," and with them, came widespread positive international coverage of Israel.
Being in the center of the news is nothing unfamiliar to Israelis. We are used to being at the center of the foreign media attention. But this past week, Peres managed to do what many state leaders before him could only dream of- shed a positive light on Israel in the eyes of the world.Peres's birthday appeared on front pages worldwide- from the United States through Europe and even the far-east. People from all over the world posted congratulations on his Facebook page, A-listers landed here and spread words of appreciation for Israel everywhere, and world-leaders praised this man, who helped creating the state of Israel, for being a "man of peace."
For one week, there was no conflict, no criticism of "occupation," no calls for BDS, and not a worry in the world. For one week, we could feel the wrinkles of worry on our faces dissolve, as we enjoyed Barbra Streisand's voice, appreciated Bill Clinton's words of support, and knew that any minute now we can encounter Sharon Stone or Robert De Niro on the street.
For one week, we were not "that women- discriminating place" or "that one big military base" or even "the people who live by an apartheid policy." For one week, we were just citizens of Israel- a liberal democracy, a part of the western world, where normal, happy people live. For one week, we weren't what hate-washed people say we are – we were ourselves.
This past week was a vision of utopia for me. I got a glance of the life I wish to live someday. I want to live in a peaceful place, and not have the rest of the world assume they know better what I should and should not do. I want to live in a world where I don't feel the continuous frustration of reading lies about my home. I want to live in a normal place that, like most countries of the world, is being appreciated by the foreign place, alongside a legitimate criticism made by people who fully understand the reality we're living in.
For one week, I was walking on a cloud. Will it stay that way in the future? I find it hard to believe. I guess things will go back to the unfortunate normal any day now, and unless major, profound changes would happen, I believe it will remain this way. But giving our poor situation facing the outside world, the past week, even if a very short experience and even if it only changed the minds of a few, was truly a dream come true.
Shimon Peres, a short bio
Barbra Streisand honors the President with a song
Be My Friend For Peace (Noy Alooshe Remix)