After thousands of years of refusing to give up on a religion and a culture, we have become the mavericks, even among our own. I’m sure this rebellious streak runs in my veins too. After all, whatever my parents advise me to do I almost always by nature do the opposite.
Over the course of the past two years I have had some major ups and downs and many changes of opinions about people and religion and culture. These opinions apply to everyone, not just Jews. However, when it comes to Jews, from the exorbitant dinners I’ve had to pay at synagogues, to being shut out of a synagogue in Mexico because I wasn’t Jewish enough to being essentially black listed and de-friended on facebook by friends because let’s face it, I’m pushy and passionate and as diplomatic as I try to be, sometimes I’m not. It doesn’t help anyone when I’m not except for those who I feel are not treated well.
I didn’t leave the comfort of my home on a dangerous journey because I felt a little about how Jews treated each other, but because I felt a lot about it, because I felt that the way we treat each other is a a path to a much bigger tragedy than Holocaust.
As a result of my travels I have found out a lot of good about my people and my religion. I also found out a lot of bad. There are people that dislike us for genuine reasons although they are a little biased because they dislike us despite a lot of good and it isn’t wise to dislike all people because all people have their good and their bad.
However, I believe that if you don’t speak out in these instances, the bad have no chance to fix themselves and the good may be confused by the behavior of the bad and begin doing the same things so it is imperative to speak out if only to stop the spread of hurtful behavior on the part of the minority.
This is what happened recently with me trying to help spread the word about Jews in Ethiopia being persecuted. I have faced a lot of flack when trying to garner support and I have had to respond, maybe I shouldn’t because after all, it is more important to build a coalition than to be alone, but at the same time I feel that I have to call people out on their racist and bigoted views even if they are Jews, or maybe especially if they are Jews. For instance, if a Jewish organization says that they are fighting for civil rights and against poverty and then brush off Jews being jailed and persecuted in Ethiopia, then I have to tell them that they are being hypocrites. Because if I don’t then who will?
Here’s an email I received the other day:
Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, i just don’t believe that all those Ethiopians now claiming to be Jewish really are. Israel is a very attractive destination and if i was a dirt poor Ethiopian I’d do or claim just about anything to get there.
That is the entire email by the way. So if you got this kind of reply to a plea for help from someone related to someone who helped thousands of Jewish Ethiopians wouldn’t you reply in such dismissive attitude towards a people who are suffering, wouldn’t you respond? And so I did, I told him that I’m sure his family was poor when they arrived to the United States. I told him that I was poor in Ukraine, and United States and Israel didn’t assume I was just pretending to get out the way some are just because the people I’m talking about are of a different skin color.
And of course this isn’t the only man, and not the only opinion of the community, but the opinion of the community certainly isn’t as passionate as when they see a swastika, actually I’d say the opinion of the community can be almost indifferent. Faced with these kinds of opinions and attitudes, it is not surprising that there are Donald Sterlings who become public and makes all of us ashamed because we are a small minority and people like that end up representing us in not the best light. People acting that way make a whole community look like fools. Because if we are to demand respect, and we are to demand remembrance of Holocaust, and if we write and talk and scream about the evil of antisemitism, then we better damn well give respect, and remember the suffering of others and we better not be racist to others, including our own.