Brunch Infographics and a Century-Long Conflict

At this time; it is easier than ever for American college students to repost an infographic claiming to understand a century-long conflict in between aesthetic photos of brunch. For us Jewish Americans who are all consumed with anger, fear, and doubt, it is harder to do so. 

Embed from Getty Images

The October 7th massacre and subsequent war has been incredibly devastating for those affected, both Israelis and Palestinians. As a Jewish American who served in the Israeli military for almost two and a half years, and protested against the Israeli government for the past year, I feel stuck between my two identities; a proud Jew and Israeli, who is also a disappointed citizen.

As a Jewish American looking out, seeing protests celebrating the death and rape of my friends is earth-shattering – it reminds me of stories my grandparents told me, stories that at the time felt fictitious and distant. Seeing individuals rip down posters of kidnapped families is devastating – it’s monstrous. It seems like the cry to return a one year old to his home should be unanimous. Grieving is difficult enough, doing so while people demand proof or justify the terror by offering ‘context’, is cruel.

I often find myself wondering, if it took the devastating death and raping of Jews and Israelis to remind college students to care about Palestinians lives, is it really Palestinian lives they care about? Is it really Palestinian freedom? I wonder what message that sends to the world about the intention of these protests, especially considering they started on the 7th itself. 

Today, many conflate between the right for Israel to exist as a nation state and the legitimate, incredibly important criticism towards the Israeli government. The issue is that creating such a false equivalence is asymmetric to the way we criticize all other nation states – and often stems from antisemitic narratives. I am beyond ashamed of my government, not my identity. 

As a Jewish American looking in, seeing calls to flatten Gaza by Israeli leaders or rubber stamping any criticism of the Israeli government as antisemitic is dumbfounding. We, as a Jewish nation, should be expecting and demanding more from those who supposedly represent us. If we want Israel to represent the beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East, we should champion the valid criticism of this leadership. 

Using the word ‘antisemitism’ as a mechanism to silence criticism of a government is shameful and dangerous. I’ve seen first hand the mountain of ash sitting in Majdanek, a concentration camp in Poland; that is a real consequence of antisemitism. The use of antisemitism as a cover all term to silence debate allows politicians to dodge responsibility for their actions. It also cheapens the word and minimizes justice to the serious crimes that are in fact antisemitic.

As I scroll through social media, my feed is polarizing. It’s a tool that divides us, radicalizes our beliefs, and results in atrocious calls to action. While my American friends post anti-semitic caricatures about Jew’s controlling the world, my Israeli friends upload videos of Benjamin Netanyahu comparing Palestinians to Amalek. It’s exhausting and not reflective of the nuance that exists in the conflict. 

Anytime I want to share my anger and grief to either side, I feel the need to preface with one of the two sides of me. On one hand, the side that loves my Jewish identity. The side that moved to Israel at the age of 18 alone to serve in its military. The side who wants to build a family there and raise my children there. On the other hand, the side that is angry. The side who holds complete disdain and disgust for the current Israeli government. The side that spent almost 40 Saturday nights straight at the junction of Raanana protesting Netanyahu’s government. And there are many Jewish Americans like me, who feel stuck in this multifaceted identity. 

The important thing to recognize is that these sides are hardly contradictory. In fact, it is the very love for the Jewish nation that results in my passion to see it change. I hope that we, whether Jewish, American, both, or neither, take this as a reminder that protesting for a better future is not an action against the country, it is an action for it. 

About the Author
El-ly was born in Israel, when an adventurous path led her family to relocate to India, China and Thailand. Growing up in diverse communities fostered El-ly’s global perspective and passion for discovery. El-ly is currently in her third year of Business and Economics, and is a fellow of the Argov Program. She currently serves as the Vice President of RRIS Debate Society.
Related Topics
Related Posts