I need to vent. The whole Israel/Palestine situation is driving me insane. As someone who identifies as an Atheist and an Ex-Jew I have so many feelings I’m working through.
I was born into an Ultra Orthodox Jewish family and I’m ashamed to admit the kind of mentality I was indoctrinated with. It took one specific incident that made me see things in a different light, and change my views.I was in a world where absolutely everyone I knew hated Arabs and Palestinians.
I’m using the word “hate” because I want you to see behind the niceties they want to portray the world. So the words I’m going to use are authentic to what I was taught.The indoctrination was so deep rooted.
We were told how we are “The Chosen People” and that we were special and better people than anyone else. Black people were referred to in very derogatory terms, using words in Yiddish which are comparable to the N-word.Anyone who wasn’t Jewish was called derogatory names, and Muslims, and even Caucasian people weren’t spared this.
I knew there was conflict in the Middle East but I wasn’t told exactly why this was happening. All I was told was that the Israelis were the victims and the Palestinians were the oppressors who wanted nothing more than to kill all the Jews around the world.
When 9/11 happened this continued at a rapid pace and it was like a stamp that what they’ve been telling us was true, that Muslims were “barbaric, murderers, animalistic, haters” etc. So, all my life these were the kind of beliefs I was brought up with. At one time there was a Jewish family that were attacked by a Palestinian man and someone was tragically killed. Of course that it horrific. No one would say otherwise. I was no different.
I was angry that this Palestinian man had thought it was okay to kill an innocent person, but then I heard about the way the family would be punished. That in itself made no sense. Why do they bomb the homes of the people who attack Israelis? Why are the families the ones that are now targeted? It didn’t make sense to me.
The perpetrator and victim had both been killed that day. Yet the family of the murderer would face so much simply for being related to the killer. Yes, the IDF generally give the families a warning that they were planning to bomb their homes, but why is that protocol? It doesn’t make much sense to me now, but at the time I felt it was justified. After all, they did kill that man. No?
A few days later I was reading an Orthodox Jewish Newspaper where this whole incident was reported, including the final part where the family’s home was bombed. What I then read made my blood run cold. They reported that several members of the family had not been given the warning and had not managed to leave the home when it was bombed.
Several members of that family were killed, including a new-born baby girl. I asked those around me how that was in any way justifiable. The response I got back then sends chills down me, even decades later. I was told bluntly that ALL Muslims hate Jews and want them wiped out, and that killing any of them would, in the long run, be beneficial because it’s one less Muslim, and “one less Terrorist” in the world.
When I asked about the baby, I was told that she too would become a terrorist when she grew up, or that she would have children or a husband who would kill Jews one day. That is how they tried to rationalise it to me. I wasn’t satisfied with this answer and I kept questioning how killing a tiny baby was okay in their eyes. I saw how they looked at babies who aren’t Jewish as “less than” and in some way subhuman. So the fact that they had no compassion for this family who had lost several family members, including a tiny baby, didn’t shock me.
They openly talk about how “other people”, meaning anyone who isn’t Jewish, don’t have the same feelings about their children. Their own kids were top of the hierarchy in terms of importance of human life, and there was absolutely no value to the life of a Muslim baby. After all, they would grow up to be a terrorist and would kill Jews, so one less was a blessing.
That was the moment that I felt my beliefs waiver. I couldn’t understand how the value of a newborn Jewish baby was seen as something so special and everything had to be done to keep this baby safe. And yet there was no sympathy or sadness for the families losing their babies because the Israeli Army were killing them, and had no compassion for them.
None of this made sense. Life moved on, things happened, and decades passed. When I left the faith 6 years ago I wanted nothing to do with anyone who had these kind of abhorrent views. I felt very much alone until I found a whole world out there who accepted me for having strong opinions about this subject. I wasn’t judged on my background. It was about my views. So I kept speaking out, often facing brutal backlash.
There were times I had dog sh1t on my doorstep, my tyres slashed repeatedly, crowds of Hasidic teenagers chanting outside my home and harassing us that the police had to be called several times, etc. And the hate continued online, and has been going on all this time.
Sadly now it has gone up a few levels. The name calling, the threats, the vile messages, emails, comments, and voice notes I have received in the past couple of weeks has been unbelievable. My social media platforms keep being reported as they want to shut me up and not allow me to speak my truth. Yet I will never stop.
Just today I have been called a Nazi, an antisemite, someone who is worse than the Nazis and who wants the ethnic cleansing of all Jews not only from Israel, but worldwide. In all honesty all I want to scream is can’t you see the pain in the faces of these Palestinian families who are grieving their loved ones… and why do you not seem to care? Oh, wait, I forgot. It’s because an Israeli Jewish baby is “worth more and has more value than Palestinian or Muslim babies”…. That hurts even to write it.
I am in no way saying that the 10 deaths in Israel are not horrific. Of course that is tragic, and I have cried for those people who have lost their lives so tragically. At the same time I see most Jewish people seem not to care about the 200+ people who have been killed in Gaza, including over 60 CHILDREN….. But that is referred by people I know as them “being in the wrong time and place”, and that sickens me. Every death is something that cuts me deep.
This is an example of what I’m referring to.
“Horribly disappointed in you. That your reaction to the bombs falling on Israel by the thousands is a desire to see “free Palestine”. You want the terrorism to secure a free Palestine? Really? You want from the river to the sea Palestine be [Jew] free? Ethnic cleansing is your new cause? You bleeping kidding me? And I don’t even want to hear fallacies, because we all know that Israel’s number one import is holiness. Every religion calls it the Holy land. Under Israel the Christians, Jews and Arabs all have 100% freedom to visit any holy site of their choosing. Including the cave of the patriarchs, the temple mount etc. So you want the land of Israel to be Judenrein (best case scenario apparently is that you wish them to flee and not be slaughtered?) and only the Muslims to have access again to holy sites?”
I never said I wanted ethnic cleansing of anyone at all! The way this person talks to me about my views is outrageous. I just never said or alleged any of those things. I don’t want anyone to be removed, killed, “ethnically cleansed”, “Judenrein” and to get all Jews out of Israel and for the country to be for Muslims only. I simply questioned how anyone is okay with what the Israeli Government and the IDF are doing in Palestine. I specifically stated that this was not a Jewish-Muslim discussion. I reiterated that this was a right wing Zionist and Israeli Government and Palestinian issue, and the discussion has to be based on facts not emotions. Every face I see, regardless of whether they are Israeli or Palestinian breaks my heart….
What the Israeli Government are doing is unacceptable, but that doesn’t make me antisemitic. I can criticise them without being accused of being an antisemite. But sadly some people cannot differentiate between the two. I am someone who is passionate about people, about humanity, and won’t focus on what religions people have. Seeing what is going on in this world, and seeing people being hurt, being killed, being targeted for what others have done is not something I am willing to keep quiet about.
Despite the fact that I was born into the Orthodox Jewish world, I have now left that behind and can see things clearly and have been working out how I feel about all sorts of topics, including this one. Yet now I feel lonelier than ever as almost everyone I know has different views to me. I am careful about who I speak to and am wary of even opening this conversation with most people around me. Fortunately my boyfriend is just as passionate about this but I tend to have to keep my opinions to myself. I can’t afford to lose any more people in my life….