I’m part of an annoying group. A group that is the cause of all the trouble happening in the world today. A group that opposes the peace efforts of everyone. A group that causes instability wherever we go. A group whose very existence causes great pain to many others. A group who no matter how many people throughout history have tried to get rid of – just keeps coming back! I’m like the Rocky Balboa of the worlds’ peoples – no matter how many times I get knocked down – I just keep getting up! It’s like I have an iron dome in my head.
I’ve been accused of everything you can think of – just name it. Black Death of 1348 in Europe – that was me. Kidnapping Christian children and drinking their blood – again, me. The financial crisis of 2008 – guilty. Taking over the world – hell, I do that one for laughs. Genocide – that one happened just last week at the United Nations! Whatever insult you can hurl at me, or poisonous libel you can accuse me with, or blatant lie you can fabricate – I’ve heard it all.
I’m not really known for being a great athlete, but boy can I run! I’ve been chased by more people than you can ever imagine. France got rid of me in 1182… and kept on doing it a few more times. Hungary in 1349 and 1582. England in 1290. Holland in 1442. Poland in 1648. Russia forced me to live in an area they called the Pale of Settlement. The Arab world chased me out in 1948. Even parts of the United States in 1862, but that one only lasted a few weeks.
Germany dedicated almost all its resources to get rid of me during the reign of the Nazi empire. I tried to flee, but many of the countries, who I thought of as friends, would not let me in, calling me ‘undesirable’ and sent me back to impending doom, where one third of my people and countless others as well were murdered. And yet I held on…
The Romans expelled many of me from my country in the year 70, but some of us managed to stay. They even renamed my holy city Aelia Capitolina. I can’t even pronounce that! They tried to rid my land of any traces of my existence, so they renamed my country to Syria Palaestina. And although some still believe that we weren’t there, history knows we were and always have been for the last 3000 years.
When I did finally return to my own small corner of the world – even then that wasn’t good enough. I am told that I must go back to the countries I came from. The problem with that is that if I go further back through history and back some more and back even more and keep on going back, – eventually I will end up right here again. So then where exactly should I go? This tiny sliver of land that many of my people live on is not much – but it’s home, and if you try to destroy that – we’ll defend ourselves. And for those who want to force me into deals that endanger my people, I will reject that as well, just as I was rejected by you in my most desperate hour of need.
Those marches I see scattered around the world that call for justice, peace and democracy – I won’t join those. Because their idea of peace is not my idea of peace. When they smash windows and destroy cars, that’s not the kind of peace movement I want to be a part of. They aren’t protesting against this strip of land or that neighbourhood – they are protesting against my very presence, trying to replicate what the Romans failed to do 2000 years earlier.
In my life I’ve seen it all. I’ve been a slave whipped mercilessly by Egyptian overlords. I’ve run through a sea that has parted before me, while being chased by the might of the Egyptian army. I’ve stood at the base of Mount Sinai and heard the voice of God. I’ve carried the Ten Commandments and entered the Promised Land where my forefathers dwelt before me. I’ve fought the Amalekites and the Edomites and the Philistines and the Greeks. I’ve won battles and I’ve lost them. I’ve been defeated, but never destroyed. I’ve stared down the might of the Roman Empire – and outlived them. I’ve looked into the eye of the most evil regime in modern history – and survived. I’ve been thrown into the fiery pits of hell, yet clawed my way out of it – bruised and bloodied, but not beaten.
Although I make up less that 0.2% of the world’s population, I know I’m not alone, and there are people out there – probably more than I realise – that support me. And although I’ve been victimised, I am by no means a victim. I stand tall among the nations of the world, contributing to it in every way I can, determined to do my bit to make this small planet we live on a better place.
I know I’m not perfect – far from it. I am a human being like anyone else. If you hurt me, I will cry. If you beat me, I will bend. If you insult me, I will be upset. I make mistakes like anyone else and on the eve of my holiest day, I will think about the things I’ve done wrong, ask for forgiveness and try to improve myself going forward.
For those who don’t like me, who wish me and my people and my homeland harm, I’ve got some bad news. I’m a Jew. But it gets worse. I support Israel. But it gets even worse.
I’m damn proud of it.