Standing amongst a group of all native born Israelis, I have never felt embarrassed about growing up in America. I stand proudly as an Olah and all the strength that dances in the two intertwined flags. I know my ascent sounds misplaced and my mannerisms don’t match everyone else’s but I find a subtle confidence in my identity. Having dual citizenship has been an honor and when I think of the democratic process and worldly education I have received, I couldn’t be more thankful. I connect with American ideals of rooting for a success in journeys via hard work ethic, and when I hear someone speaking English, it brings me indescribable amounts of joy. I am American.
But, I am a Jew. First and foremost, my identity card is the one that put my people in death camps, the one that kicked us out of Spain and the one that suffered in pogroms. The DNA that flows through my twenty year old body connects me to the people who experienced the miracles I celebrate, and passed down a book of our story of finding morality. I inherit it all regardless of acceptance so I guess I choose to follow nature here; even when the tides of action twist in contorted figures.
Daydreaming out the window, my phone vibrates with a what’s app message from my friend notifying me that three sons of my people were kidnapped on their way home from school. Later on, news updates drown out the world with details. Not just kidnapping, but by a terrorism organization. Trying to make sense of the sudden weight in the air, I find an angst of unease in the silence from my birth country.
It’s tough to be the only American. The jokes. The random questions. The frustration in the lacking materialist ease that I am used to. But nothing is harder than the self disappointment in representing a country that cares more about celebrities and sporting events than crimes against humanity. It’s tough to swallow the embarrassment of voting for a President who hasn’t made a single comment about innocent boys being held captive by terrorists, a president who hasn’t mentioned that a citizen of The United States was kidnapped by terrorists. I find myself doubting the beauty of my first passport, not because it’s not a good place to live, but only because it’s not my place to live.
Last night, my roommate woke up at 2am from the boom of rockets nearby. In San Deigo, that sentence would never make sense. Last night, there were mothers clutching their children, praying for the return of others. In San Diego, the news taking place on the other side of the world notifies about the hostage of human beings. Last night, I went to sleep in a Jewish country. In San Diego, the graffiti on the side of the bridges often resembles swastikas.
It’s been a week. A week of the unknown; except for knowing the pain. A week of tragic pride, of reactive Zionism; a tearful hug of my people. My expectation of American assistance is far-reaching; our friendship has boundaries. Overly involved diplomacy is also a messy business. I would just hope for words of compassion in trying times, like many other international leaders. Maybe a mention of combating terrorism, a possible comment about freedom or the simply empathy for the parents of the boys….. Maybe I’m just being overly American in that way.