As I sit in my Art History class here in NY, I am finding myself not able to focus. As I log onto my daily dose of Facebook, why is it that my feed isn’t full of photos of my friends at college; rather it is full of constant notifications about new stabbing attacks? As I get ready to go out, why is it that I find myself questioning whether I should be able to have fun while my brothers and sisters six thousand miles away cannot even take a bus without the risk of a terrorist coming on behind them?
It is questions like these that are keeping me from understanding the truth behind what the intentions of these barbaric terrorists are. Are they only looking to start a fight? Are they so vicious that the only way they can express their difference of opinion is through violence? I am still waiting for the day that I am able to comprehend their inexcusable madness.
Last week, in Times Square, there was a rally in support of Israel that I went to in an attempt to show my support, even from so far away. As a couple friends and I were waving our flags and cheering in front of some Anti-Zionist Satmer men, a lady (who at first I thought was Israeli) approached me. She was in fact not an Israeli, rather a pro-Palestine Arab looking for a fight. She turned to me with a thick accent and said “You are too little to be doing this.”
I turned back at her, assuming I must have heard her wrong and said “Excuse me?”
She repeated herself and once again told me that I was, in fact, ‘too little’ to be supporting the country in which not only much of my family resides, but where my heart will always remain. She continued by explaining to me that these Satmer men, who believe Israel should not exist until the Messiah comes, knew exactly what they were talking about because they had been studying for years and have much more experience than I will ever have. That is when I looked her dead in the eye and responded, “I am sorry but, do you even know me?”
Do you even know me?
The answer? Well, the answer is no. This woman had no idea who I was. All she knew was that I am a Jew. A Jew who was choosing to be proactive and that, well, that is something that she, along with many others, refuses to allow. My personal identity meant nothing to this woman, for her, just the mere fact that I call myself a Jewish Zionist is where the problem lies.
After much heated back and forth between us, she proceeded to tell me that I, as a Jew, was raised to be too violent (ironic right?). At this point my friends and I decided it was time to walk away. As we were walking away, I heard a man chanting behind me. I turned around to see exactly what was happening, and in front of me stood an Arab man chanting NAZIS, NAZIS, NAZIS! At this moment it all became real to me. These people not only want to take away our homeland, but want to wipe us out completely. They want to take the Jews in Israel, the Jews in Europe, and the Jews, right here in Times Square, and make us disappear.
And at that moment, I turned right back around to the lady who had made me disappear and rallied for my country like I have never done before.
So, what I am trying to communicate to not only that woman, but to all those who believe that terror is the answer is; You can take out your aggression on the Jews, you can do everything in your power to make us seem like the bad guys, but at the end of the day, we are going no where. Israel is going nowhere, and there is nothing you will do to stop that. You can pull your knives, you can throw your stones, you can jam into your innocent toddlers heads that killing Jews is the main goal, but at the end of the day, Israel is and always will be our country.
That, I have finally realized, is the reason I am distracted. Not only because the country that I know and love is being attacked, not only because I am not physically there to stand up for my country, but because terrorists and people alike think they can wipe away my religion by the swing of a few knives. As I stand here in New York, as a Jewish teenage girl, I am proud to say that nothing will stop me from being just that. Not a person, not a place, and most certainly not terror – I am and always will be a Jew, standing proud and alongside my religion and country, fearing no one.