Shirah Cashriel

Breaking Down Barriers

Something happened in the Twitterverse today that I’m almost certain has never happened. Someone apologized to me for all of the mean, baseless comments he made about me.

It was started with the mudslinging we all know and love – we have big noses, drink children’s blood, I’m an ugly dyke, you know, the usual. Then he started posting pictures of female IDF soldiers holding Israeli flags, but instead of the Star of David, it says “We Kill Children”. He posted an article about how Ayelet Shaked called for the massacre of all Palestinian children and their mothers. I replied with calm cynicism, the original photo of the soldiers holding normal Israeli flags, and an article about how Shaked’s words were twisted about.

He kept asking me why I’m so nice since Jews, he told me, are all Satans. He told me he noticed that I don’t have any anti-Islam photos on my Twitter profile.

Lastly he asked, “if u r that nice…Then tell me y u ppl kill my ppl??”

I explained to him, as much as one can in 140-character snippets, that just like every country we have racists, but the average Yossi just wants peace. I told him how we unilaterally withdrew from Gaza as a step toward a two-state solution. He didn’t even know Israelis were ever there. He asked me about Al Aqsa and whether Muslims were allowed to pray there, and whether we constantly blast it. I explained to him that as a mosque it is their right to pray there and that this is a holy site to Jews as well, destroying it would be blasphemous. I sent him a map of the Old City, showing the quarters, the mosques, and the Western Wall so he could see how close we are to one another in Jerusalem. I told him about Salim Joubran, the first Arab to receive a permanent appointment to the Israeli Supreme Court, about Rana Raslan, the  Israeli Arab Miss Israel, and explained to him that we have Arabs sitting in our Knesset, serving as officers in the IDF, studying in universities. This is a multicultural nation.

We talked a little about Hamas, and the basis of Israel’s claims that are very much at fault for the appalling state of the Gaza population. I sent him videos of the shooting at trucks carrying humanitarian aid at the Kerem HaShalom Crossing and a link to an article about the executed “collaborators”. I sent him an article about how the media is incredibly skewed towards the Palestinian people. I hope he reads them, and at least starts to question everything he has blindly understood until now.

He told me he didn’t know that there were long-standing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians until this past month. He never had a friendly conversation with a Jew before. I told him he should visit; he hopes to one day when he’s a bit older because right now his parents might not let him. I told him we can have many more friendly conversations.

I sincerely hope that we stay in touch, even if it’s only a little bit, so he can really see that not all Jews are monsters. Maybe I even managed to change his misinformed opinion on such an emotional subject. Maybe he’ll spread it to friends, family, or classmates.

Maybe I made a friend who is a Muslim, and a Muslim made a friend who is a Jew.

About the Author
Former IDF Soldier