Throughout my life, I have periodically heard these insults, but the noise of ignorance and hate, like static, can be tuned out with practice. I built a wall to stop slurs from keeping me up at night and from thinking about the boy who etched a drawing of a Nazi killing a Jew on a bench at school. But this past summer, during the war between Israel and Hamas, my wall crumbled, brick by brick, setting me adrift in a flood of hatred.
When the war began my sister was in Tel Aviv, and I was terrified. I sat glued to the television, the newspaper, and the Internet, making sure that she was safe. Several times a day, air raid sirens wailed, giving her just 60 seconds to flee to a bomb shelter before impact. People were trying to murder my sister and her friends and I needed to know who was pulling the trigger. I searched for information online but all I seemed to find was a frenzied media pointing hypocritical fingers at the Jews. One newspaper article even had the audacity to say that the war began when Israel retaliated! Let me reiterate: according to the news, firing rockets at Israeli civilians didn’t start the war, but Israel’s attempt to neutralize Hamas’ rocket launchers did.
Biased media coverage of the war seeped into social networking sites, poisoning newsfeeds and message boards. Many people I know used Facebook to share their distaste for Israel and the Jewish people. Some people compared the Palestinian narrative to the African-American civil rights experience, ignoring the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. was a passionate pro-Israel Zionist and that today’s oppressors in the Middle East are the radical Islamists! Ironically, one person even went so far as to project Hamas’ atrocities onto Israel, falsely accusing Israel of terrorism and “bombing the masses”. This person didn’t know (or didn’t care?) that Israel was simply doing what any other nation would do to try to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets into Israeli cities. Unable to accept that Article 7 of the Hamas Charter calls for the systematic murder of all Jewish people everywhere, this uninformed individual had no ground to stand on and therefore resorted to parroting the anti-Israel sound bites that are being circulated in the blogosphere and are propagated in the media.
At first glance, Hamas’ genocidal goal seems ridiculous; what group in this media-centric and politically correct world would publically announce its intent to murder millions? But this summer, my dad told me that as President of our local Temple he, along with other Temple Presidents, had received veiled threats and were being warned by local and national law enforcement to be aware of the growing security threat against Jewish institutions. My father was advised to be on the lookout for strange packages or letters as many temples and their leaders had been harassed nationwide. It was then I realized that even America might not be safe for Jews. There are people out there who would want to harm my father not only because he is Jewish, but because he is not willing to hide his identity.
I too will not hide.
My wall is down.
I know that many people want me and my people dead. I am aware that I may be attacked either verbally or physically but I will not sit idly by and let my people, or any people, face threats of violence and extermination. Standing on the bricks of the wall that I once hid behind, I will now rise above the flood of hate and meet head-on the media bias that sympathizes with suicide bombers and allows anti-Semitism to fester. I may become a target but I will continue to confront the challenge. Who will climb up and stand with me?