Andrea Karshan

Israel Palestine: My Story

I was never really that passionate about Israel stuff even though I grew up with a father who was very much a Zionist and a big supporter of Israel. And when I was a child I used to sit and watch on TV a rabbi who was trying to raise funds to help Russian Jews make aliyah to Israel. These Russian Jews were suffering and poor in Russia. They didn’t have food, etc. And this rabbi was saying how when they went to Israel they would have everything. So after seeing these images over and over again as a child my image of Israel was a dreamland where if you went there all your dreams would come true.

As an adult I was Muslim for years and that made me very pro-Palestinian because I was brainwashed with lots of Pallywood. And I am sad to admit, but at that time I didn’t have much critical thinking skills and couldn’t see past the nonsense. And I also wasn’t hearing another narrative. Then I entered college when I was Muslim it’s long story how this happened but I ended up at the Hillel which ended up me taking at class from ZOA on media bias on Israel. That was when a light bulb went off in my head. I all of a sudden started looking at the conflict in a different way.

So then I went to different extreme and started identifying as a Muslim Zionist. I started thinking Israel was always right and I started always being on Israel’s side.

Then when I ended up converting to Judaism I wasn’t too interested in Israel but stayed in the loop of things ’cause it affects the Jewish community. But soon I felt Israel tugging at my soul. And I started reading about Israel news. I started wanting to learn more. So I decided to join a few Israel events. I went to a few Resetting the Table events. And when I voiced my opinion at one of the events I went to I got totally shut down cause people disagreed with me cause they said you have never been to Israel (they had all been there.) So then I thought about it for a second should I stay out of this conversation because I have never been to Israel. I would like to add on the other end of this spectrum since my days at the Hillel in college there were people trying to get me and others more involved in Israel stuff because the more allies Israel has got to be better right? But the problem is when you disagree with them on things or criticize Israel then they want you to shut up.

So I contacted a friend I met from J Street who I really respect and I asked him his take on this. I said I really want to be part of this conversation. I am learning more about Israel now. But I have never been there. What are your thoughts? He told me my voice as an American Jew is important whether I have been to Israel or not. And that I have every right to be part of this conversation. And to not let people intimidate me.

I signed up to be a “member” of J Street. I started writing my elected leaders through J Street about things in Israel. I started donating to political campaigns of candidates that legislate the way I want when it comes to Israel. I started following news very closely in Israel. Recently I did TikTok Lives on Israel Palestine for 3 months ’till I couldn’t do it anymore cause it was just too time consuming. But what I learned so much from these Lives talking to Israelis and Palestinians many living in Israel Palestine. It really helped me understand the region better. I am also planning a trip to Israel in 2023.I feel like it will be a homecoming more than my first visit. I now identify as pro-Israel pro-Palestine pro-peace pro-truth.

About the Author
Andrea Karshan is a Jew currently living in Chabad Crown Heights. She was born a Patrilineal Jew to a secular Jewish family with a Jewish father and Jewish stepmother. She then became Christian, and then was a Muslim for 13 years. She then did an Orthodox conversion to Judaism. She is passionate about Judaism and loves being a Lubavitcher. She has three Muslim kids from her previous marriage to a Pakistani. And she fights hard to combat Islamophobia and Antisemitism. And she is pro-Israel pro-Palestine pro-peace pro-truth activist.
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