Thursday, December 2, 2010

From Jew to Zionist

A recent story by Ines Astrug published on The Jewish Agency’s website got me thinking about the price that many of us have paid over our love and support for our Homeland. Some have be fighting their entire lives on this subject while some of us are more recent entrants in the debate.

As many of you have read in my previous post, I completed my conversion in June 2008. I have been fortunate in that my family has been incredibly supportive (my parents even paid for the conversion class and were there when I went to the Mikvah) but I can’t say the same for many of my friends. Everyone had questions, friends and family alike, but once I sat down and answered all of their questions they were accepting of my decision and supported the choice that I had made.

However, other responses ranged from a simple piercing glare to downright refusal to accept the fact that I didn’t believe what they saw as the only “right” faith. Once the shock of these responses dimmed, discussions and debates ensued resulting in agreements to disagree and tenuous friendships at best.

Within the year, those relationships were destroyed. Operation Cast Lead brought about a change both in me and in my relationships with others. In the beginning, I kept my opinion to myself having the occasional mutually respectful conversation with coworkers.

As the media continuously blasted Israel as an “evil occupier”, the hibernating Zionist in me woke up. At the same time, pointed posts and emails began flooding Facebook and my inbox: anti-Israel and, sometimes, anti-Semitic. I was not going to just sit and listen anymore so I began calmly commenting and respectfully responding to their hate filled rants.

Almost instantaneously, my friends began to dwindle with nasty emails following suit as a going away present. They couldn’t accept a viewpoint that was contrary to the media… but “CNN said this” and “The New York Times printing this story”. Intelligent people simply reading a script and following the directions presented to them. No one stopped to question the facts; no one dared take the side of Israel. It was sad and, many times, surprisingly disturbing….

Not everyone relied on the media to form their opinions. Some people confided in me that they were having the same problems with, now former, friends while others reveled in the excuse to mask their anti-Semitic tendencies in the anti-Israel media circus. “Unfulfilled genocide” was a common phrase that peeked from behind the veiled argument.

This only got worse as the public was force fed leftist stories anchored by the Goldstone Report. The same people that wanted nothing to do with me before were now reconnecting because “now that their argument was supported by an UN report”, I would admit that I was wrong. They didn’t expect that my response would consist not only of defending my stance and my Homeland but would also address the inconsistencies in UN policy and the clear bias that exists in that institution. Needless to say, they didn’t appreciate my response and, once again, disappeared.  

It has been nearly two years and I haven’t spoken to any of those people since. They are intelligent people with which I miss having interesting conversations but I can’t compromise what I believe in nor can I forget the hurtful things they said. They would rather attack and accused rather than try to understand or see things from another perspective.

Do I hate them? No. I just hope that one day they will be able to see the other side of the argument. I don’t expect them to become Zionists I just want them to accept me for being one because I am not only proud to be a Jew but I am proud to be a Zionist.  

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