"...it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions..." — Israeli Declaration of Independence, 14 May 1948
Last Tuesday I had the privilege of visiting the Israeli Knesset. The Knesset is Israel's parliament. They are housed in an amazingly beautiful building in Jerusalem. A friend of mine, Avi Mayer (whom some of you might know from his twitter fame or from his talk at the #IsraeliAmazing kick-off event), was participating in a meeting with the Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Committee to discuss the need for more coordinated public diplomacy between NGO's and the Israeli Government. Although the entire meeting was in Hebrew, I was able to understand quite a bit of what they were speaking about. I really wish I were able to understand it entirely because many comments made were directly related to the advocacy I do on campus! Avi even gave me a little shout out! (For those of you who are interested, and speak Hebrew, here is a video of the entire meeting. Avi's comments begin at 35:56 and my shout out is at 40:49. For those of you who don't speak Hebrew, or don't want to watch the video, here is a Jpost article about it.) Of course, being the Israel nerd that I am, I got really excited seeing members of Knesset walking in the same halls as me. I really enjoyed getting to witness a piece of Israeli democracy first hand. It is interesting to think about the fact that not everyone in the world gets to experience democracy. Not everyone has the right to choose to participate civically in society, or to choose who will represent them in that arena.
We also briefly visited the Jewish Agency offices where a lot of really great work is being done for Israel and Jews around the world. I got to see Natan Sharanksy's office (unfortunately he was out so I wasn't able to meet with him), where Ben Gurion's office was and where Knesset used to meet. The visit really made me think about what I want to be doing with my future. The more I see/do/learn the more sure I become that my future career will have to be Israel related. And more than that; I have to be doing something constructive for Israel. I'm not even nearly 100% sure what that will eventually be, but there are many choices available to me.