The End of Silence

The other night on the subway, I was surrounded by people leaving a Pro Palestine rally. “Fine,” I said to myself, “no matter how much I disagree with these views, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.” However, as I looked around at my fellow passengers, I began to feel a hateful vibe–signs with language that made me uncomfortable, people saying nasty slurs, and the word Jew being uttered with such disdain. A young woman came down and sat in front of me, proudly displaying a sign with a huge swastika. Fear that I had never felt and did not know I was even capable of feeling began to fill my heart. Faced quite literally with anti-Semitism, I was of unsure of what to do, but I remained silent.

I could not sleep that night. The woman and the swastika were etched into my mind. Was this the fear that many of my relatives felt fewer than a hundred years ago? Should I have said something to this woman? I am well educated. I know better than to be a bystander, yet I have remained one this summer, observing multiple hate crimes. I wondered: if the six million Jews murdered in the Shoah were here today, what would they say? I have decided that they would urge me to stop remaining silent on a topic just because it is controversial and messy.

So it ends here. I am done being silent in the face of anti-Semitism. I am done being politically correct on Facebook for fear of offending those who do not like what I have to say. I am done apologizing. Today and every day, I stand with Israel. I could get into all the nitty gritty details behind why I support Israel, but I do not need to reiterate what people far smarter than myself have already argued (FYI–If you’re looking for insight read/watch Daniel Gordis, Hillary Clinton, Bret Stephens, Fania Oz-Salzberger). Instead I will say this. I stand with Israel because, as one Times of Israel blogger put it, the anti-Semitism that has been on display for the past month all over Europe and America has shown the necessity of a Jewish state.  I stand with Israel.

I know that many of my friends have witnessed or know of anti-Semitism in their neighborhoods. I hope that my public denouncement of the anti-Semitic act I witnessed inspires others to speak out.

P.S. To those of you who believe that there is equal hatred on both sides: I do not deny that there are people on both sides with hate in their hearts. However, the failure of Pro Palestinians to condemn anti-Semitism is what, for me, sets the two groups apart. At the Pro Israel events I have attended, I have yet to witness any sort of Islamophobia. Organizers of these events condemn it. Instead I have seen a love of Israel, hatred of the terrorist group Hamas, and interest in freeing innocent Palestinians from Hamas’s cruelty. That is more than I can say for these “Pro Palestinian” protesters who seemed perfectly content to laugh and cheer while a huge swastika stared them in the face.

About the Author
Samantha Kahn is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Newton, MA.
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