To any Jewish readers of my blog, I wish you a happy Hanukkah. Although I don't share your religion, I have a deep respect for Israel and Judaism.
Part of it is directly connected to my faith. As a Lutheran and a follower of Jesus Christ, my faith wouldn't exist without you. And contrary to what some might claim, I fully acknowledge Jesus was a Jew. How can I not love a people that gave me my Savior?
Part of it is based on Israel's history. Throughout the centuries, Israel has been an underdog, a people who have endured the machinations of those who wanted to wipe them off the face of the Earth. Yet, they've not only survived, but they've thrived. Out of their little corner of the Middle East, they have carved out an existence that is nothing short of miraculous. It's a testament to who they are as a people and their potential to survive in spite of those who would do them harm.
Part of it is what Israel's presence in the Middle East represents. Compared to the other counties and religious factions in that neck of the world. Israel represents an oasis, both literally and figuratively. Israel is proof that a democratic or near-democratic form of government CAN exist in the Middle East. Consider the scientific and technological giants that have come from Israel! That alone should make a fan of Israel out of most people.
I don't always say it, but my actions almost always reflect it. I am a proud supporter and ally of Israel. To some, that makes me a target for hatred, criticism, or worse. So be it. I'll gladly suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism to defend a country and a people I've grown to love and respect.
God bless you, Israel!