Toby L.W. Klein

Jewish, Not Brainwashed

I’ve been asked to apologize for supporting Israel in this current conflict. Any evidence or reasoning I give to support my cause is merely written up to my upbringing. I’ve been accused of being brainwashed. As if somehow my Jewish roots bind me to the tree of life that is Eretz Yisrael.

Though I may have been born Jewish, I wasn’t born stupid. My Judaism hasn’t brainwashed me. On the contrary, it’s forced me to examine and reevaluate nearly everything. I swear the saying “two Jews, three opinions” originated in a Hebrew school discussion. If my belief that a democracy has the right to defend itself against a terrorist organization makes me “brainwashed”, then fine.

I’ve been brainwashed into believing that people who have inhabited a land for over 3,000 years deserve to have it recognized as their own. I’ve been corrupted into thinking the Holocaust was one of the greatest crimes against humanity, and that the survivors deserved a safe place to seek refuge, restore their faith in G-D and flourish afterwards.

My rabbis have corrupted me into loving my neighbor as myself and believing in peace. Judaism has forced me to question what I read and determine the facts for myself. How dare they corrupt me into being an open minded free thinker!

If one chooses to call me brainwashed, fine. So be it. But to make a claim that my religion somehow shields me from seeing the truth of a gory conflict is as barbaric as Hamas using human shields.

I have a bias, that doesn’t make me blind. The facts won’t change due to my opinion. My opinion can only change due to the facts. To claim a Jew  is somehow less qualified to speak about Israel because they have a vested interest in it is the same as to say that a woman is less qualified to speak about women’s rights, simply because she is a woman.

The facts are the facts. The truth won’t change. I refuse to apologize any longer or defend myself for being a Jew. I am not 17 years old, but thousands of years old. I am biblical scriptures and the latest article from the Jerusalem Post. I am a collective history–one I will not soon forget. My knowledge won’t change, nor will it be affected by one’s inability to see that Judaism and Israeli activism are not mutually inclusive.

I am a person. I have knowledge. Perhaps if people stopped trying to determine the roots or reasons for my knowledge, they could actually learn something.

About the Author
Toby Klein is a current senior residing in the suburbs of Chicago. She's a senior fellow in Write On For Israel (Chicago) Cohort 10.