“Hello !” Gina Hunt (name changed) wrote to me on Facebook. “My name is Gima. I American !”


Something told me she wasn’t American.

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“My name is Leora,” I responded. 


“Where you from?”


“I am American,” I responded. “But who are you? Are you sure you’re American?”


“You Israeli,” Gima wrote.


“No,” I responded. “I am American.


“F*** y**, Leora.”


“Daughter of a *****, your mother’s ****,” she wrote in Arabic. (At which point I was not so glad to know Arabic.) And then she blocked me.


I have no idea who she was, where she was from, or what she wanted. But I assume that she figured out that I was Jewish (my Facebook profile makes that easy for figure out) and that I supported Israel (this is even easier to figure out). That combination of attributes meant I was the enemy and that I should be befriended, only to be blocked right away. (And frankly, good riddance. I don’t need to be friends with Israel-haters.)


Experiences like these make it very easy to blame a whole society for anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli attitudes like this one, particularly Arab society, like the one that Gima presumably belongs to. But what is easy is not always right.


I was blessed this past week to meet an Arab journalist who fights for peace and is a friend of Israel, and to whom I have become, to put it in his words, “a Jewish sister.” He grew up in a what is defined as an anti-Semitic society, but doesn’t swear at me because I am Jewish or Zionist or a wannabe Israeli. He defies the idea that all of his home region is anti-Semitic, because clearly, he is not. 


At this point, many of you will think that he is an exception and not the rule. And indeed, there is an ever-present feeling of anti-Semitism in many countries, but that doesn’t meant that there are no people there who support Israel and oppose anti-Semitism. (If you don’t believe me, check out the StandWithUs Facebook photos with people from countries all over the world professing their love for Israel.) There are plenty of anti-Semites out there, don’t misunderstand me. And, unfortunately, it is easier to see the bad people than to search out the good ones. But, believe me, the good ones are there too. They are always there.


As a teenager with a (sometimes incendiary) online presence that is not limited to social media, I have to deal with a surprising amount of unsavory comments. As an advocate against anti-Semitism, I get plenty of lovely messages quite like Gima’s. As a human being who reaches out to the “other side,” I have had to deal with a painful amount of verbal abuse (“that Torah brainwashing makes Zionists” and “I can’t be friends with you because you’re a baby killer” are some of my personal favorites). Harsh words won’t stop me from slamming anti-Semitism publicly…. but, at the same time, none of this stops me from believing that there are people who belong to the so-called “other side” who accept and love me because I am Jewish and who accept that I love and support Israel, whether or not they agree with that. 


I resent the belief that just because Gima Hunt hates Jews and Israel means that every individual in her society hates Jews and Israel. That’s not true. It is true that there is an often-present anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment in that part of the world, but it does not mean that everyone subscribes to it. I have been extremely fortunate to have an Egyptian best friend who loves me for my Zionism and my Jewishness and a newfound Egyptian brother who has literally given me hope in finding more people like him. For me, fighting anti-Semitism is not the same as believing that a society who lets it happen is entirely anti-Semitic or anti-Israel. The other side is not all bad.


As my generation says, #HatersGonnaHate. So let them hate.


Being a Zionist, Jew, Israeli or whatever you are (there are a lot of options) is so much cooler than that. Find the good people, because they are what strengthen our Israel, our fight against anti-Semitism and our battle for peace.





Follow my (teenage) musings about Israel, anti-Semitism, Judaism, war and peace on Facebook at Leora Noor Eisenberg or on Twitter @LeoraEisenberg. 

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