To my fellow Americans, Jew, and gentile, alike:

If someone had asked me about Israel just a few years ago, I would have said it’s wonderful, it’s amazing, and I’d love my impression of it to stay that way. I would have said I never want to live in Israel. In fact, that’s exactly what I said when my parents’ friends and my friends’ parents asked if I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps and move to the Middle East. I knew there was both crime and terror, but I also didn’t want to know all of the details related to the constant horror. I didn’t want to hear about every suicide bomber, crazed driver, and misguided youth who threw rocks at pedestrians. If the Red Alert app had been available then, I wouldn’t download it in solidarity, as so many have. I wouldn’t try to see if I could run to safety in 15 seconds. Because I was living in ignorant bliss. I knew it, and I wanted to continue to think of Israel as the land of flowing milk and honey. I told myself: “That’s okay. So long as I only visit for short periods of time, I don’t need to read the newspapers. I don’t need to know about everything from the crooked politicians, to the overpriced milk, to the murders, and the eventual release of said murderers. We have our own issues to worry about in the U.S.” I thought maybe, just maybe I’d never have to face the facts about the country I grew up celebrating every year on the second Sunday in June.

And yet, just a few short years later, here I am, sitting in an apartment in Jerusalem. Now there’s no denying that this country is both a land with politicians who make empty promises, and grocery items with price tags I would have never imagined being so high. And there’s no denying that we witness more terror than anyone should ever have to endure. And though I haven’t yet made aliyah, I know it’s on the horizon. Friends who know how emphatically I didn’t want to live in the Holy Land often ask what changed. Israel changed, and the world changed. Or maybe it just began showing it’s true colors. My impression of the country isn’t so jaded. I’ve accepted that she’s not perfect. And that isn’t okay. Not really. I don’t want to have to accept that. But I must. I know I can continue to live in ignorance, but I can’t escape the consequences of such a ‘blissful’ life. If I pretend people don’t cheat, or steal, they still will. And if I choose not to know about the terrorists who blow themselves up in pizza shops, who drive into pedestrians, if I choose not to think about just how many people walk around filled with hate and disgust and the desire to kill, not only will they still be there, I will have missed the opportunity to respond to them.

I’m not the only who didn’t take advantage of opportunities to respond to these terror attacks. In 2012, 93,000,000 American citizens chose not to vote for the next President. And I suspect the percentage of eligible voters who did not cast their ballot last week is even higher than the 40% who abstained in 2012. And I understand. It’s difficult, at best, to feel our votes matter.

We can ignore what’s happening around the world. We can ignore the kidnapping of Our Girls, we can ignore the plight of the Yazidis, we can absolutely ignore the atrocities taking place all over Israel every single day. It’s all too easy to ignore. We have lunches to pack, children to ready for school, work to get to, essays to write, papers to grade, groceries to buy, dinners to cook–we all have different tasks which fill our days. While we can ignore all events which don’t immediately impact our daily routines, we cannot escape the consequences of ignoring them all. If we don’t read the stories–if we don’t make the pain our own, how will we understand the severity of the situation? How will we take the right steps? If we don’t elect officials who care about the suffering, then we’re indirectly making it worse. How? Well, by not voting, by not making our voices heard, we’re letting politicians who hand money over to terrorists stay in power. We’re letting them give our hard-earned tax dollars to terrorists who murder babies. We’re letting them use our name as the American People to tell the world that if we acknowledge Jerusalem as Israeli territory than we lose credibility in the peace process. How about we stop with the political rhetoric? There is no peace process between the governments. There is only Israel bending over backwards for terrorists. There are only materials being provided by Israel for the sole purpose of aid for the Palestinian people being used to build terror tunnels under kindergartens, endangering Palestinian and Israeli children alike. Though I get criticized right and left for voicing my belief, I know there are Palestinians who want peace. But they’re not their government. And while I sit here telling you we must make ourselves heard, I believe equally strongly that they must do the same.

So, we have to vote. And if we don’t like our options, then next time we need to find someone better and campaign for said person, or run ourselves. Our politicians work for us. We need to remember that, and we need to remind them, as well. We need to storm their offices until we’re heard…and listened to. We need them to know, we need the world to know the American people have had enough. Enough spitting at the Temple Mount. Enough stabbing soldiers. Enough rocks being thrown over cliffs intended to shatter toddlers’ skulls. Enough shooting school kids. Enough terrorists breaking into homes and slashing babies’ throats. Enough cars ramming into pedestrians. Dai – enough.

We know it. Our ‘leaders’ need to know it. We need to let them know. And we can’t stop. Because the day we do, the day we tolerate representatives who don’t respect our voices, the day we stop speaking up for ourselves, that’s the day we cease to be Americans.