Never in my life did I think I would experience first-hand anti-Semitism in my hometown of Toronto, let alone from another gay man. To illustrate for you how upset I am, I’m shaking, my face is bright red and I’m in some sort of shock. I’ve decided to write a post for the Times of Israel as a way of dealing with what I just experienced and to share it with others, so that Jews all over the world know that we must “Never Forget”. I apologize in advance for not being as articulate as I normally am.
My good friend was visiting from out-of-town and we went for a late lunch this afternoon with his ex-boyfriend, whom I’ll refer to as Jason. We were all having a great time. Jason started talking about Grindr, a gay dating app for your phone, when he claimed to be good friends with the CEO and Founder, Joel Simkhai. In the gay-world, Grindr is the app to meet other guys, with over 10 million downloads and 5 million monthly users. I thought it was pretty interesting that Jason knows Joel Simkhai and I went on to say that Simkhai is one of the most well known Israeli entrepreneurs because of Grindr’s success.
I was immediately stopped by Jason and told that Simkhai was in fact a famous Palestinian entrepreneur. I said that he must be confused, when I was again stopped and told that just because Simkhai is Jewish, doesn’t mean anything as “there are millions of Jewish Palestinians”. Jason then went on to say, “besides, Israel does not exist and is not a real state.” At this point my blood started to boil.
I was completely shocked. What I mistook for Jason’s confusion was in fact his strong anti-Israel positions. I interjected that publicly saying these sorts of things was extremely insulting, especially since I’m an Israeli citizen and my family is from Ramat HaSharon. Jason responded that he didn’t care and claimed that even the United Nations doesn’t acknowledge Israel and that Israel has no capital. “Millions of Jews worldwide agree with my position”, he said. I was barely allowed to respond to these blatant lies and when I tried to interject, phrases were used like “you people”. Aside from questioning his stupidity on everything that he mentioned, I asked Jason about the 1947 United Nations Partition of Palestine that was passed by a majority of members and I was told that the U.N. had in fact rescinded this resolution!
Jason then chastised me for not agreeing that he has a right to have this opinion. When I said that he doesn’t have a right to tell me that I have no right to exist, I was told about my “occupying racist people”. At this point, realizing that I’m not getting anywhere, I vocally rationalized that his opinion was due to the fact that he was uneducated ‘white trash’, threw money on the table for my meal and walked out.
As I walked away, I was proud at what I did, shocked at what happened and disappointed that my good friend had decided to be a bystander and allow this to occur without standing up for me.
It baffles my mind that someone living in Canada with a university education is so undereducated. In fact, it became clear that this was more than being uneducated, this was outright anti-Semitism. I am extremely open to all view-points, but telling me that Israel has no right to exist and is not a real state is modern day anti-Semitism. I have many friends whom I have a differing position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but none of them deny Israel’s right to exist. What’s even more shocking is that a gay person would hold such viewpoints given that the only country in the Middle East that would celebrate him instead of hanging him in a public square, is Israel!
This has been a rude wake up call for me and should serve as one to anyone reading this. Anti-Israel views that cross into anti-Semitism aren’t just being held by people without post-secondary educations. It’s a stark reminder that Germany was a nation leading the world when anti-Semitism overtook it.
While the Israel Defense Forces are fighting in the battlefield, it’s important to remember why they are fighting. Israel, as the Jewish homeland is there to ensure the survival of Am Yisrael and ensure that we are never left defenseless again.
An extremely sad reality is that in the coming decade, there will be no survivors, and thereby, witnesses left to the Holocaust. It is our job to not only ensure that the memory lives on, but that we never allow anti-Semitism to surface again. For the memory of my ancestors and all of those before me, I will not go down without a fight.
I’ll leave you with the final words, which were said with utmost pride, of Daniel Pearl before he was beheaded by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan: “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.”