Today, I was set to attend a pro-Israel rally here in Amsterdam.
There aren’t often pro-Israel rallies in the Netherlands. First of all because there aren’t that many Jews or Israel supporters here. Second of all, because rallies like this are a security nightmare, there is always a greater the risk that some group will use the rally as an example to unleash their disgusting hate.
In light of Friday’s attack in Paris, that risk is much higher. I just found out that today’s has been cancelled. “Out of respect for the victims in Paris and due to the security situation.”
While I certainly understand that the authorities would ask for this, because it’s a security nightmare, this is the wrong response to Paris.
I am not one to take unnecessary risks, particularly when it comes to my daughter, but what kind of example am I setting if I am afraid and if I teach her to be afraid?
In Europe, almost more than any place else, rallies like this need to happen, because, well it’s Europe and if last summer has shown us anything, it’s that guilt over the Holocaust is not enough to stem the tide of antisemitism in Europe, not with a 2,000 year old tradition and Muslim extremists, keen to make examples out of us.
Canceling this rally is wrong. It doesn’t respect the victims and it plays right into the terrorists’ hands. Canceling the rally says it’s wrong to shop in a Jewish grocery store or to go to synagogue or to support Israel.
Well, not me.
They want us to be afraid. They want us to stop being proud of who we are. They want us to hide.
I. Will. Not. Hide.
Just a little over 70 years ago, Jews hid all over the city of Amsterdam, all over this continent, afraid, powerless and scared. Many were caught and never made it back. Entire families gone. Entire neighborhoods, no longer Jewish. A few blocks away from where the demonstration was to be held, a young girl spent years in a dusty attic, but courageously wrote in her diary of how she still believed, after all she had experienced, in the goodness of people.
For that legacy to mean anything at all, we, the Jews in Europe cannot be afraid either. We need to fight, for our governments to protect us and for our right to exist and live freely and unafraid on this continent.
I am not afraid. I may not be able to organize a rally, but I can do what I can do.
I am not one to wear a Star of David, but today, I am putting one on. The very one my grandmother, who, just a little over 70 years ago was hiding in southern France bought for me when I turned 12. I am putting it on and wearing it proudly and my daughter will wear hers.
We can’t give into the fear.