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Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Embracing my Jewish roots after October 7 meant surrendering to anti-Semitism

By meerna Jun12,2024

A person pulls a photo of Eliya Cohen from a “kidnapped from Israel” poster next to an encampment protesting the University of Washington’s ties with Israel on the campus in Seattle, Washington, May 12, 2024. (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

October 7, 2023 was a turning point in my life, awakening me to the responsibilities of my identity as a Jew in a world increasingly plagued by anti-Semitism. It shook me to my core and at the same time gave me a new purpose – one I am still reflecting on.

Although I have never felt deeply connected to my religion, the terrorist attack that day forced me to confront my heritage and to speak out for Israel’s right to exist and the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland, which is the true definition of being a Zionist.

The attack on Israel’s sovereignty, which resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 people and the taking of hundreds of hostages, some of whom are still held by Hamas, dispelled any illusion of distance from my Jewish roots.

There is no perfect government, and like any other country, Israel is far from perfect. Benjamin Netanyahu was charged with fraud, breach of trust and other crimes. None of this alleged behavior is in any way okay, but it does not diminish the need to defend the Jewish homeland.

My personal encounters with anti-Semitism, which I have promoted over the past few months, have only strengthened this commitment. I have some of this on video, including things like “Jewish nose”, “Work will set you free”, and also “Macht Frei”, which is a reference to the sign that greeted innocent Jews at the Nazi Auschwitz extermination camp before, instead of they were gassed to death solely for being Jews.

I had to call the police. When I look at what I recorded, I really cannot believe what is happening, the names I am being called, the accusations being made solely because I am a Jew and I wear the Israeli flag, I am defending the Jewish people and the hostages still left in hands of Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian students create posters at an encampment on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 28, 2024. Protests against Israel's war on Hamas began at Columbia University earlier this month before spreading to campuses across the country .  They pose a significant challenge to university administrators who are trying to balance campus commitments to free speech with complaints that the rallies have crossed the line.  (Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP) (Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Pro-Palestinian students create posters at an encampment on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 28, 2024. Protests against Israel’s war on Hamas began at Columbia University earlier this month before spreading to campuses across the country . They pose a significant challenge to university administrators who are trying to balance campus commitments to free speech with complaints that the rallies have crossed the line. (Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

I am not an apologist for Israel, and when I have the chance to engage in conversation, I acknowledge Israel’s many faults while making it clear that I fully support Israel’s right to self-determination in the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.

I clarify that I also support coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, which has been repeatedly offered and negotiated – and every time Israel is attacked, war is declared and Israel successfully defends itself. I feel the change needed will come from people, not governments, which is why I stand in Colorado with an Israeli flag, having conversations that will hopefully bring people together, not tear them apart. My goal is to create conversations that will unite people and dispel much of the misinformation that has spread like wildfire since October 7.

Being ridiculed with derogatory remarks and symbols reminiscent of Nazi atrocities just for flying the Israeli flag shook me to my core, but also made me more determined. The year 2024 in Boulder, Colorado, called ad hominem by names containing Jewish tropes, was a wake-up call that compelled me to proudly wear my Star of David and join forces with like-minded individuals in Colorado with amazing groups like Stop Antisemitism Colorado to combat prejudice and disinformation.

After October 7, I found comfort in newfound camaraderie and purpose. I am lucky to have met new friends who I care about very much. Working together, we have lobbied against anti-Israel sentiment in politics, we have successfully challenged ceasefire resolutions across the board, and we have faced and continue to face illegal encampments like the one at my son’s school, the University of Denver, and I have personally been witnessing things that shouldn’t have happened. The encampment had a huge impact on Jewish students.

It is a journey of uncertain destination, but one defined by unwavering support for Jewish self-determination and a passionate desire for peace in Gaza. Honestly, I really want peace – and those who have known me for a long time know that I really and sincerely mean it.

I am not opposed to a ceasefire – there was indeed a ceasefire on October 6. For this to happen, Hamas must surrender and release the hostages. Hamas cannot be allowed to continue to rule and must be eliminated. There’s a lot that needs to happen, and it needs to be done deliberately and carefully. However, for the process to begin, the hostages must be released – and now.

By meerna

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