I am Israel.

I am the place where sirens wailed today to send a message of truth and hope, a message of remembrance for those who have fallen, of tribute to those who gave up their lives for this land. I am the place where sirens wailed yesterday to urge my people to run and hide, to shelter from attack, to tremble in fear once again.

I am an oasis ofI am an oasis of peace and serenity peace and serenity, a home to so many, a place of refuge for a nation that flees; I am the source of controversy and conflict, of fighting and bloodshed, a land that weeps in fear and pain while suffering constant beatings from the world.

I am the land flowing with milk and honey, luscious vegetation and seven holy, delectable plants that grow throughout my ever changing climate. I am the land saturated with the blood of our nation’s strongest, the youth of yesterday that toiled tirelessly for our tomorrow. The land that buries its dead much too early, the wails and cries from children and widows echoing into my hillsides.

I am a country that was promised to Abraham, the first Jew and the first to be told by G‑d that this land is for us, for our People. The country that is one of the smallest in the world, barely discernible on the map, a tiny dot surrounded by leering Arab nation on all sides. I am the country that everyone talks about, fights about, claims ownership to. The country everyone wants a piece of.

I am the site of redemption, the place where two temples were built, where G‑d’s name rolled off of tongues like water rushing down a waterfall. The glory of a people, the crown of their existence. I am the site of exile and sorrow, my roads aching with the steps of mourners, the pangs of starvation reverberating in my streets, my rivers witness to the cutting off of thumbs and harps that no longer played in song.

I am freedom, the long-awaited home for a wandering people, the one place every Jew has come to rely on. I am power, boasting an army that is famous, world-class, skilled in every way. I am oppression, enduring war after war, rocket after rocket, rifle after rifle.

I am beauty, a vision of scenic mountains, dry endless deserts, luxurious beach cities. I am the Yam Hamelach, Massadah, Ein Gedi, the Golan, the Kinneret, Tel Aviv and Eilat. I am teeming with tourism, I am groaning under the weight of my visitors. I am desolation, cities torn down and citizens forcefully evacuated in the pursuit of peace. I am in ruins, bombs exploding on my buses and restaurants, fires set purposely to incite terror in my inhabitants, homes shattered from rockets and terror.

I am the history of aI am freedom, the long-awaited home for a wandering people people, the blueprint to their existence, the proof of their identity. I am dripping with verses from the Torah, my cobblestone streets permeated with Psalms, my walls testimony to the greatness of scholars who walked my pathways. I am the future of a past, the brightness after gloom, the sweetness of hope. I am the dream of a people challenged over and over.

I hold morals and values, yet they call me unethical.

I cherish life and preserve the living, while they glorify the dead and chase murder.

I celebrate human growth, as they applaud human loss.

I am light, and they are darkness.

And if you listen carefully in the silence, you will hear the thousands who walked my holy earth and gave up their name for my existence.

They are calling, “Am Yisrael Chai.”

For I am Israel, and G‑d gave me to the Jewish people. Forever.