Lucy Aharish, Arab Israeli television host and reporter, woke up on Saturday morning and saw that someone had been trying to reach her by phone for hours.
"I called back. It was Yitzhak Zunshine, the head of the Hasbara Center," Aharish said in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth.
"I asked what the urgency was and he responded: 'I wanted to congratulate you. You were chosen to light a torch on Independence Day.' I fell silent. I, usually very talkative, could not speak a word. Tears came to my eyes. It was the last thing I thought would happen," said Aharish.
One of the first calls Aharish made after she received the good news was to her mother. "I called her and said: 'Mom, they chose me to light a torch on Independence Day.' 'Okay, great,' she responded.
"I was surprised by her response. 'Do you fear something?' I asked her. 'It is after all the biggest ceremony at Mount Herzl.' And she answered, 'Wonderful. This is how you will hit back at all the racists who make your life hard everyday.'
"I accept what she says 100 percent. It is a slap in the face to all those racists who have no shame to post comments such as 'stinking Arab' and 'Get out of here, this is not your country' and 'who needs Arabs on their (TV) screens.'"
Aharish says she did not think of giving up the position for a second. "I'm proud of it," the television host who was born to Muslim parents and grew up in Dimona said. Aharish now resides in Tel Aviv.
"I know that a lot of people will have something to say, but the moment my parents are proud – I am happy."
When asked if she would be lighting the torch as a representative of the Arab Israeli population, Aharish responded: "I don't feel like a representative. I never felt as though I'm a representative for anyone. When I speak, I don't think I speak for anyone else. I speak solely for myself and describe the way I see the world."