“Journalists were killed because they defended freedom. Policemen were killed because they were protecting you. Jews were killed because they were Jewish.” ~Prime Minister of France, Manuel Valls
Journalists – defending.
Policemen – protecting.
Jews – because they were Jewish.
Because they were Jewish. I am Jewish.
Growing up I didn’t think much about my identity as a Jew. I spent my Sundays in a Protestant church. Although, when I was younger, I experienced anti-Semitism on a couple of occasions. Both times the words, “You don’t look like a Jew” were used against me. I didn’t even understand what those words meant. What do Jews “look like”? And how do I not look like one?
On the first occasion, I was wearing a Star of David necklace for the first time. I wore it because I thought it was pretty. Nothing deeper than that – just pretty. The owner of the market I visited almost every morning before work didn’t think it was pretty. He yanked it off my neck and slammed it on the counter. I did nothing, except not return to the market.
Second time, a boy I was dating for over a month, kicked me out of his car when I mentioned off-hand that I was Jewish. I did nothing, just stood on the street waiting for my sister to pick me up.
I didn’t spend much time thinking about the injustice and prejudice I experienced. What I did do was stop telling people I was Jewish. Apparently, that was the problem. The problem was mine, not theirs. I didn’t look Jewish, so why tell people?
I’m older now and not the same girl who solved her “problem” by hiding her truth.
I am Jewish. Je suis Juif.
As anti-Semitism is on the rise… it IS on the rise. We all see it. Some care, a lot don’t. When Jews are being killed for no other reason than they are Jews, we must stand up. We must not hide. NEVER FORGET.
I still don’t practice the Jewish religion, but I Am Jewish. I will never again hide that simple fact. As the hate rises, my pride rises, too. I feel, the very least I can do, is stand up with pride and solidarity and say, “I am Jewish” and I’m with you. Does it matter? Probably not. But, I won’t hide. Ever.
So, as we all mourn the loss of the cartoonists defending freedom. The policeman protecting the people. Take a moment to also send a thought and prayer to the people who died for no other reason than they were Jews. They were simply Jews. Like me.
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.” ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl