I’m a mother. I’m a Jew. I’m an American. I’m also an Israeli living in Israel.
It isn’t easy to say you’re Israeli in progressive circles these days, for many reasons. Some of these reasons are fair, some aren’t.
Yes, I’m an Israeli, and I love my country—even though I bitterly oppose too many of our polices.
But I am an Israeli, born in America, who has chosen to make Israel my home—to be part of a fraught and complicated history, with the intention of doing all I can to make my country more just, more compassionate, and truly a light for all who live here.
Just as all my friends are doing in America.
I’m an Israeli raised on Yiddish lullabies, because my Mom was the last scion of our shtetl and she would tell me stories of a world eaten alive first by pogroms, then by Nazis. I’m an Israeli raised by grandparents who were told on their honeymoon in no uncertain terms: “No dogs, and no Jews.” I’m an Israeli named for my great-grandmother who chased the Jewish mafia out of her butcher shop with a meat cleaver because she wouldn’t let any bully tell her what to do.
I’m an Israeli raised on Civil Rights anthems, because my dad went down to Georgia in the early 1960’s to register black voters. He was beaten and arrested and he could have died, but he didn’t. I’m an Israeli whose grandparents were proud white members of the NAACP.
My values as a progressive Jewish American Israeli mother are steeped in who I am—they’re in my DNA. It’s why I fight for equality and shared society here in Israel. It’s why I write. It’s why I want to build bridges between progressive Israelis and progressive Americans because we need your help.
Our government has lost its mind.
Our Jewish Prime Minister won’t even outright condemn the KKK and actual Nazis who are marching in the streets and spewing their vitriol over the airwaves and the internet.
The self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the Jewish people doesn’t even have the moral courage to say: “This is wrong.”
It’s an embarrassment. And I’m embarrassed.
No, more than that: It is a travesty.
And I am ashamed.
And this is why, more than ever, I want you to know that I am horrified by what’s happening in Charlottesville and across America.
I am horrified that Nazis and the KKK marched in Charlottesville, emboldened, without hoods with those cut out ghost eyes, without covering their faces, without an ounce of shame because they are not afraid to be recognized. They know they’ll have their jobs on Monday.
I am horrified that a woman around my age with my values was murdered by a terrorist and neither your president nor my prime minister can say loud and clear: This is evil.
I am horrified that the KKK has slithered out from under that rock in nasty droves, and that our African-American brothers and sisters still have to deal with this shit so many decades after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.
I am horrified that it is no longer safe for too many folks in America, that the values we hold sacrosanct and their very institutions are in peril.
I am horrified, and I want you to know something else: Almost everyone I know—from the barista with the dirty laugh on Shenken, to Yossi the taxi driver with the gold teeth in Tel Aviv, to the soldier I sat next to on the on the way to Jerusalem, to Amal the poet over on Salahadin Street, to my orthodox Jewish neighbors who pray three times a day and have eight kids with one on the way—they’re horrified, too.
Tonight, when my kids went to sleep, I sang them two songs–Oyfn Pripetshek in Yiddish—the song of my mother—which is about the learned rabbi and his students: “Listen carefully, remember, little ones.”
And then the song of my father: “We shall overcome.” I believe that so strongly.
I am here in my little pocket of the world where it smells like fig trees and lemon grass, with my kids, and all these other Israelis who are shaking their heads right now and, too, their fists. And we are here, and want to work alongside you to make things right.