I have a custom: searching for speeches in their entirety, of the world leaders, who visit Israel. In the media, you can usually find only that which they said about the Palestinians or about Iran, but if you look for the full speech, you’ll find out that which they expect of us.
And it’s interesting — in this week’s portion, Avraham Avinu hears the commandment: “And all the families of the earth shall be blessed through you.” That is, you are supposed to be good news to the whole world. Between the liberal West and fanatical Islam, there is also a voice that is supposed to come out of here, of Yerushalayim, and it turns out that this voice stirs curiosity and even admiration. Here are a few examples from recent times.
India’s leader, Modi, said in his visit here: “I come from a country of a billion people, but little Israel is an inspiration to us, because not the quantity is the important thing, but rather the quality.”
The Austrian chancellor said that Israel must survive and succeed, not because of interests but because it is the morally right thing to happen.
The president of Panama said that he admires our nation, because it is always fighting for a goal and a purpose.
The president of Guatemala said here that we are a light unto the nations.
The leader of Britain, Theresa May, said how proud she is for Britain’s part in the Balfour Declaration, which lead to the establishment of the State of Israel, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said just a few days ago that she is grateful for the friendship with us and that she has a lot to learn from us.
Not to mention Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, who go out of their way and call us “A Light Unto the Nations” time and again.
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, the richest man in Asia, visited here recently and said: “You are a miracle. I think that you are so smart, because you used to be homeless throughout the years, and this is why you did not invest yourselves in physical things. The only thing you cannot take away from a homeless person is his mind, and in this you invested yourselves, and this is the most important thing.”
This is not a call to be overly proud of ourselves, but rather to pay attention to the challenge. Avraham Avinu starts in this portion to found a new way, an alternative culture, which is supposed to be an inspiration and a blessing to the whole world. And till this very day, it turns out, there are those who are willing to listen. “Light unto the Nations” is not a cliche. It can be the headline.