Ariella Bernstein
Ariella Bernstein
Forever an Israeli Immigrant

Stand With A Palestinian Flag, But Don’t Threaten To Rape Me.

File photo of a July 2014 pro-Palestiniain rally in Paris. © Jacques Demarthon, AFP

I woke up to antisemitism on Friday morning. And I know the exact moment when it happened. May 21, 2021, at 2:00 am.

The ceasefire between Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel went into effect at precisely that hour, and that’s when I started looking at news around the world.

For the duration of the war, I only read Hebrew press reports. How many rockets? Where did they hit? Who do I know in harm’s way? How long will it take to restore the delicate balance of shared living in mixed cities? How hard did we try to mitigate civilian death? I didn’t want to pay too much attention to any other press reports. It was too much of a distraction.

But at 2:00 am on Friday May 21, 2021, it was time to start scrolling through my feeds.

A man from my hometown of Lawrence, New York, was beaten. For wearing a kippa. You can read about it here.

A New Jersey family visiting Florida were accosted on Collins Avenue in Bal Harbour. A car pulled up, yelling “F**k you Jews. Die Jews. We will rape your wife and your daughter.” You can read about that one here.

This is from the firecracker aimed at Jews in the diamond district on 47th Street in Manhattan. This is a Jew being beaten by men wearing keffiyeh, hiding their faces, on a street in the middle of Manhattan. This is a Jew being hit by pro-Palestinian supporters. This is a scene from Los Angeles, where diners were accosted by pro-Palestinians.

There are more like this. I can go on and on, but I won’t.

Here is what you need to know about me.

I am in favor of a two-state solution. I am in favor of a Palestinian State.

I don’t fear a Palestinian flag. Or a man in keffiyeh. Or a woman in a hijab.

But when your fist is inside a Palestinian flag threatening a Jew, that’s antisemitism.

When a keffiyeh-clad man hides his face as he accosts a Jew, that’s antisemitism.

When a car waving a Palestinian flag is driven by men who threaten to rape Jewish women, that’s antisemitism.

To my Palestinian friends: You can support a Palestinian State, as do I, and not beat me. You can protest the occupation and support your brethren’s right to a state of their own, as do I, and not incite others to kill me. You can stand with a Palestinian flag, and I with an Israeli one, and not threaten to rape me.

To my Jewish friends around the world: Israel’s war today, and the inevitable one tomorrow, next week, or next year, isn’t about our right to exist. It’s about your right to exist anywhere.

This will not be our last war. Not as a State and not as a global Jewish community. Another bad day will dawn and Israel will have to fight again. And it is no longer about wiping Israel off the map. It’s about wiping Jews off the map.

No, my Jewish family and friends around the world, I will not tell you to move to Israel.

I will not tell you to uproot your lives and move to a place where conflict pervades every single day.

I will not tell you aliyah is the only answer.

Nor will ask you to protest on my behalf. Or to carry a flag in my name. Or to start some sort of “Jewish Lives Matter” campaign.  Or to call your Congressman. I am no longer certain how much any of it helps.

But know this.

Israel can win the existential war, or it can win the PR war, but it cannot win both. And so long as we lose the PR war, your right as a Jew to walk freely on the streets of Manhattan, or Los Angeles, or Miami, or London, or Chicago, is suddenly in question.

Don’t worry about me.  I have the IDF to protect me and the State of Israel. But they don’t protect you.

I woke up to antisemitism yesterday. It’s time for you to figure out how to handle it.

About the Author
Ariella Bernstein lives in Jerusalem with her husband Avi Losice. Ariella and Avi are co-authors of the book Aliya: Home, Hope, Reality about the emotional impact of Aliyah on families we leave behind, and how to navigate these long distance relationships. Together with their children, they are an adopted family to olim and their home is open to anyone who needs one. Ariella made Aliyah in 2009, she works in investor relations, and volunteers in Jerusalem’s tech sector ecosystem as a mentor to start-ups.
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