It’s Your Turn

I used to think I wrote about new ideas, or at least old ideas presented in new ways. But lately, my friends have suggested I’ve only been saying just what they’d expect from someone like me; a young, White, Jewish-American girl living in Israel. And maybe they’re right, maybe the state of the world is getting to me. Maybe all I have been doing is ranting about the situation, instead of suggesting ways to improve it. So, I’ll try something else. Instead of ranting, I’ll beg. (That’s different, right?)

I directed my last piece to Americans. This one is a plea for peace-loving Arabs of all faiths, and Muslims around the globe to denounce evil.

I don’t know you. But I know many people who share something with you, an involuntary burden caused by a common enemy. Just like you, when strangers look at their skin color, notice their religious garb, or hear the accent in their voices, people cringe, they clutch their bags, and they turn the other way. Just like you, my friends are judged for the actions of people they’ve never met. People they have no desire to ever meet, or join forces with. Like you, like me, maybe like all of us, they have to fight for people to judge them by the content of their character alone, not by any stereotypes, or profiling.

It isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. But it’s certainly not random. It’s not an unfortunate accident. Strangers worry about my friends’ intent as a direct result of what has been done by others in the name of “Allah”. Maybe it’s what Allah wants, maybe it’s not. It’s not what the God I serve wants, and it’s not what the God any of my friends pray to wants.

But I didn’t put you in this position. The people responsible are the monsters who flew commercial planes into the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001, leaving thousands of victims to choose between dying gasping for breath, or plummeting to their deaths, painfully aware that their spouses were about to be widowed and their children orphaned. The people who did this to you are the same terrorists who rape and murder countless innocents every day. The same people who scream, “Allah Hu Akbar!as they destroy lives are to blame. They’re the ones frightening your neighbors.

Maybe we can stop them from killing, and maybe we can’t. That’s another discussion, altogether.

All I know is that if I am ever going to be able to go onto Facebook without seeing posts about how scared people are to walk beside a woman in a headscarf, and if you are ever going to be able to sit on a train without someone moving three seats down, it will be because of you, not me. I know, because I’ve done all I can. I’ve had every argument, and I’ve commented on every post I can. I’ve made my thoughts known. I may be considered “crazy”, “delusional”, “in denial”, and occasionally, even “too optimistic” (HAH!), but I know not all Arabs are terrorists, I know there isn’t a single God who can make human beings turn on each other. Only people can choose that path.

I’m passing the baton, and now it’s your turn. Ten years ago, it may have been sufficient to take every talent you have and never miss an opportunity to act civilly to show others that you weren’t horrible. Perhaps then you needed only to have demonstrated that you weren’t out for blood, you just wanted to live your life in peaceful co-existence. But simply being good isn’t enough anymore. Now you need to gather your courage and loudly, publicly, condemn the atrocities committed by those who call themselves your “brethren”. You need to make yourselves heard over the proud boasts of the butchers, and the wrenching cries of the bereaved. You can be silent, you always have that choice, but if you don’t use your voice to protest, the terrorists will continue to speak for Islam. And as a result, strangers will see you and wonder if you condone murdering infants or, worse, share the radicals’ definition of “Jihad”. I know there are many who do not, who abhor what the terrorists say and do in your name, but I alone can not make that known. Only you can reclaim your good name.

About the Author
Esther Aiello is just your average 17 year old American. Except she ditched being in the States for the ‘height’ of high school - senior year - instead opting to study in Israel. She prefers spending her weekends (and weekdays) changing babies’ diapers to buying new shoes. And when she’s not learning Hebrew from the kids she babysits, she’s using the money she earns to attend political events, not concerts and movies. But she loves chocolate and ice cream, so that basically makes her normal, right?