To the person I thought twice about sitting next to on a bus to Jerusalem

To the person I thought twice about sitting next to on a bus to Jerusalem:

I’m sorry I felt fear when I thought you were an Arab. I’m sorry that a small percentage of the Arabic people instill a sense of fear in me, causing me to look over everyone twice to make sure I feel safe. I’m sorry that this is the way I live, and I wish I could change it.

You see, I feel that my people are under attack. I chose to spend a year of my life living in Israel and it feels as though this Jewish country that is supposed to be a sanctuary for the Jewish people has turned into grounds for hunting. I’m sorry that you probably get funny looks, and might feel equally as uncomfortable noticing how people act around you. I’m sorry about checkpoints. I’m sorry that there isn’t peace.

You’re probably a great person and want peace as much as I, and the rest of Israel does. You probably also feel your heart drop when you learn that another innocent person has been killed. You probably worry about your life as much as I do. So why am I so afraid of you based off of what you look like. Am I a racist? Or, am I just trying to be cautious? Is it right for me to just assume that every Arab looking person is a terrorist? Of course it isn’t, and I feel awful to admit it. I wish I didn’t think like this. I wish that coexistence were more than just a dream. Above all else, I just wish that I had realized earlier that you were reading the Tanach that I noticed was tucked away in your bag. Chag Sameach.

About the Author
Max A. Kasler is currently a student on Young Judaea Year Course, a gap year program. He is a Jewish musician from Springfield, New Jersey. In the Fall of 2016, Max will become a student at Muhlenberg College.