worthless

For the first time in my life, I am scared to be a Jew.

I don’t want to detract from the severity of Islamophobia, racism, ableism, homophobia, and anti-immigration sentiment. But there is no escaping that this is the first time in my life I am experiencing true antisemitism. And not only that, it is now coupled with anti-Zionism.

I feel worthless. I feel caught in a web of wanting to scream out for justice and safety for me and my people, but also never wanting to talk about us ever again because I have Israel, right? I have Israel and refugees don’t have anyplace safe to go. Immigrants, Muslim-Americans, African Americans – none of them have an ‘Israel’ to escape to when things get bad. The United States was supposed to be their Israel.

But – here’s the thing. I feel utterly and completely abandoned by the Israeli government. Betrayed, abandoned, and just forgotten about. I feel worthless to my own people.

There was an antisemitic incident on my campus, here at McGill, about a week ago. But it wasn’t just antisemitic, it was explicitly anti-Zionist. And in my torn heart of wanting to stand in solidarity with all the people who might not be as fortunate as I am, I was shocked to realize that I might also not be as fortunate as I always assumed. And this is something I don’t want to admit. And I was shocked to realize that this was something I was struggling to admit.

Jews are safe, after all. Jews are strong! Jews are accepted! Maybe Israel isn’t, but Jews definitely are!

I want to believe this; I am white, after all. People can’t tell I’m Jewish. People don’t care that I’m Jewish. This is what I’ve always believed. I don’t wear any obvious religious garb or speak with an accent that singles me out or have a different skin color. There are so many people out there with bigger problems than my fear of antisemitism, right? Antisemitism is something of the past that only shaped my collective history and identity. Right?

Yet, it seems … this isn’t the case anymore.

I am a Zionist.

I will say it loud and clear, and I will never downplay my love for the country and my people. (As if people couldn’t tell this already.)

But, I am a two-state solution Zionist. I am a pro-peace Zionist. Yes. We exist. We are plentiful. We are possible. We are not a contradiction.

I do not support settlements. I do not support all of the policies Israel has taken on.

But I do, and always will, support a Jewish state in the land of Israel. Anyone who says that there should not be a Jewish state in the land of Israel is attacking the Jewish people – So many of whom are themselves out there, on the frontlines, supporting movements all the way from (believe it or not) BDS to grassroots peace organizations.

So when someone says something anti-Zionist, and a debate is opened, I will be one of the first to join. And I will listen to you! And I ask that you listen to me, too. Because I have made it my personal mission in the last few years, and for as long as I live, to achieve as broad an understanding as I can from as many perspectives as I can hear.

But, what happens when I feel completely discredited and estranged as a liberal Jew? As someone supportive of human rights and peace for all?

What happens when I suddenly realize that I am in a position of illegitimacy only because my people are seen – all of us are seen – as the occupier, as the colonizer? And this all happens in seconds, in the moment we chose to speak in support of our right to a safe Jewish homeland

Yeah, this isn’t anything new. We Jews are used to this kind of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, but now we are also being faced with neo-nazis and the like. And we are being shut down when we talk about antisemitism being a factor. We are told “don’t be so sensitive. This is just politics.” We are being attacked online by trolls, we are being accused of manipulating the media and manipulating politics and manipulating the entire freaking election.

“My” president shuts down reporters when asked about the rise of antisemitism. “My” president is denying that there is even an increase in antisemitism at all. “My” president is claiming he is the least antisemitic person there is and in doing so, proving that he might just be my greatest enemy.

Antisemitism is surging alarmingly. This is not an alternative fact. This is the truth. Look it up. Fact-check it if you’re still not convinced.

I don’t feel like I will have a place in America. I don’t know if I will have a place at McGill. And I don’t know if I even want to have my place in Israel if nothing changes. Even though I know my undying love for the country will never diminish.

And, I don’t even know if I should talk about this now, in light of everything else going on.

Because why should my problems as a Jew, be more important or greater than your problems which are so much worse?

Tell me. Please, I am begging you. Answer me this, because I already feel guilty for publishing this post.

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No Matter What Happens: Love Trumps Hate

No matter what happens, America was already great. America was great and America needs us to continue to be great.

To anyone who voted for Trump, I want you to congratulate you. While he might not bring me what I want and what I feel our country needs, you have your own opinion. You made your choice. This was your civil liberty. This is your right.

As Evelyn Hall said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to death your right to say it.” These are words I will always live by. Words my grandmother engrained in me.

This is the essence and very fabrication of our democracy.

And now, after almost two consecutive years outside of the country, I have discovered a beautiful irony inside me: I want to be back in America, home, and be active. Doing my part. Making my mark. Fighting for what I believe is right.

Unfortunately, this is not physically possible at the moment and so I watch from over the border in little old Canada as the Canadian immigration website crashes, American flags are being burned, white supremacists are vandalizing Phily with swastikas … and still, I feel there is space for unity somewhere among the fear and division. A call is being heard in the far off places of the Facebook void – we need to stand together. Now more than ever.

Yes, I am terrified. We all are. I am scared for all the strides we have only begun to take. The advancements in Black Lives Matter. Changing the way rape culture is being looked at. Taking in refugees whose very lives and humanity have been stolen. Equal pay. Equal representation. Combating bigotry all around. Universal health care. LGBTQ equality. The list goes on.

These are human rights! They should be guaranteed. They shouldn’t even need to require a war! And yet, in our society … they have.

And so we ask what now?

This question that is praying everyone’s mind.

And the more I hear it, the more I think … the more scared I become. But also the more resolved I become to make sure we never reach the point my imagination is carrying me. We have a job to stand strong and together. We have a job to ‘go high when they go low.’ Because we know, they will go low compared to our values.

We are stronger together and we have proved that together reaches all the way across the country and back! From celebrities to our neighbors. We need to stand up for minorities. We need to stand up for human rights. We need to stand for freedom and democracy.

This is the call everyone is hearing. We are seeing it unfold as the protests are hitting the cities! And if you are not hearing it yet, keep your ears open! It is beginning and if we can find a way to include even those we don’t see eye to eye with – ALL THE BETTER.

We need to remember, this country was never bad.

Our country has always been strong. We have ups and downs like any other, but we have shown ourselves that we can bounce back from anything.

And I need to remind myself, that just because this day has resolved me to devastation and tears more times in the past twenty-four hours than I care to admit, there is half of our country rejoicing.

I do not mean this in a bad way. There are genuinely millions of people out there who feel Donald Trump will save them. And while I will never agree, I must respect this. Because, no matter what happens, I do believe that Donald Trump must the become president. (maybe he will not be my president and maybe he will get impeached … but that is a different story)

But if or when we see certain groups using Trump’s rhetoric to justify terrorism – because that is how I view what has been happening, racists acts of terrorism targeting marginalized, minority groups – when this happens, it is our right to stand together and hold Trump accountable.

Not just our right, this is our duty!

We must hold Trump accountable to our pillars and foundations of democracy.

Let’s hope this won’t be necessary, but this election was never about trust and placing our faith blindly in a candidate. This election was about action and fighting our battles as a unified movement made up of passionate individuals. This election was only the beginning of our revolution.

It did not end with Bernie. It will not end with Hilary. And it will most definitely not end with the burning of American flags.

Our revolution will end with a progressed America. Because, while there will always be room for improvement, America was already great. And she does not need one person to make her great in “his image.”

So no matter what, remember that we have been entrusted with our own humanity. And we are the future. Don’t follow me to Canada, stay.

Help me fight for true democracy.

Jazlyn

When Fear Is Strong

This is for the Jabara Family – I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

Unfortunately … it seems that we have come to a time in our story, our collective story, that I know we will not be able to look back upon fondly. What happens when we can never learn from our mistakes and we can never see the signs that are pounding into us?

This past Friday, a man was murdered.

He was murdered by a man who is  deadly to every person out there no matter your skin tone, religion, or sexuality.

The victim, Khalid Jabara, was a Lebanese Christian whose family immigrated to the United States a while ago.

His murderer believed he was a “dirty Arab.” He harassed and maimed the Jabara family for a long time prior to Khalid’s killing.

You can insert in any other word here. Dirty Arab. Dirty Jew.

Sound familiar?

We have seen this time and again. We know what these symptoms are telling us. And yet, we remain ignorant, blind. And while I was thinking and thinking, my heart hurting for this family who just wants peace and a home, like anyone else, I came to such a sick and obvious revelation.

In my brain, for such a long time, I have believed that if a Jew could speak out about the atrocities that are going on right now – particularly those aimed against Muslims – something about the whole Holocaust “we’ve been there before” and that tiny feud between the Arabs and Jews would just make people see sense and realize that they needed to stop before we enter yet another Holocaust. I don’t know why, but I truly believed people would see sense. After all, no one wants to go back to the times of Hitler.

But now, I’ve realized how naïve I was. This person, someone who could shoot a man for the reasons he had, will never listen to sense. Not from a Jew, not from an Atheist. Not from a white person and not from a Latino. No. People who do stuff like this are only run by fear.

Fear that certain politicians are capitalizing on.

I have never been one to try and make people believe a certain way over another, but people – I beg you. Who knows what could happen if we enter into a world run solely by this fear.

There is now one less soul in this world because of a hate crime. It is as simple as that.

A crime fueled by hate.

What will happen when we have politicians urging Muslims to be “discreet,” banning burkinis – full burkas in some public places, even – and so much more? All over the world we are seeing these things happening. And these changes scare me more than anything else out there.

The irony is, this is all probably helping our “enemy” more than harming it.

I know what it feels like to not feel safe wearing Jewish items, to not feel able to act and simply be Jewish. I know how it feels – and I am always quick to say I have never truly experienced anti-Semitism.

So my heart hurts, because of all the children who are watching our actions – and learning.

Because of how I feel powerless to help.

Because of how all this injustice seems to have no end.

I don’t know what to say anymore. And I wish I could extend my hand through this blog and that it will somehow reach the Jabara family and provide all the support and love in the world. To let them know that they are never alone.

We, as a single people of the world, need to fight and stand up to this injustice that only continues to worsen day by day. And we need to think about what kind of world we want to move forward into.

Fear is strong – I know, I am an eighteen year old girl about to start the rest of her life. But I believe that we can be stronger.

Here is the link to the information regarding Khalid Jabara’s death: http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/16/us/tulsa-arab-american-shooting-trnd/index.html