“Israel is a Nazi state!”
It’s a Friday, in the late summer. We just saw a Friday matinee. As we left the theater, I got some bad news, so I’m still in shock. I stand with my mother on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, waiting for the bus. Hearing a ruckus, we look across the street and see a crowd of anti-Israel protestors. At the front are a small knot of Neturei Karta Chassidim.
Someone over a loudspeaker is screaming anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian epithets, calling Israel a Nazi state and saying how Israel is the paragon of evil, bashing the country and its government. I feel nauseated to my stomach, especially seeing the Neturei Karta agreeing with every statement.
They shout in glee when the loudspeaker shrieks “Israel is a Nazi state!” I know a lot about the Nazis. They put a number on my bobbe’s arm and enslaved my zaidy for years. They were why my bobbe’s father tried to run from Hungary to Belgium but was never heard from again, why her brother starved to death. Why six of my zaidy’s siblings and his mother died. They killed more members of my family than I can count. The Nazis tortured my people, burned them to ash, and laughed at the smoke. They did that to relatives of the Neturei Karta, too. I wasn’t aware Israel ever committed genocide like that.
I see a Muslim woman in a white hijab next to the Neturei Karta Chassids. She’s screaming and shouting gaily. I wonder numbly how the Chassids are willing to stand next to a woman because of shomer negia, but I’m distracted by the Palestinian flag she’s waving. Red, white, black, green. Red for the Israeli blood they have spilled. White for the innocence they claim they have. Black for all of the lies they have told. Green for the money and aid they have taken from Israel.
Between my frayed nerves about the bad news I heard, Hurricane Irene, and this horrible protest, it’s all too much for me to handle; I break down and start to cry.
“Shh, baby, shh,” my mom says. “I know, I know, I hate it too.” She hugs me, but I can’t control myself. “Shh. Stop it already.” It pisses me off when she gets angry at me when I cry in public. Can’t I get upset? Can’t it make me angry that these people want to kill me and every one of my Jewish sisters and brothers? That they want to see our blood smeared against the Kotel, running down the streets of Jerusalem? That they are more than happy to murder us in cold blood, while we are sleeping in our beds, whether we’re three months or thirty-six years?
“We will gather again in this same place on September 15!” I hear the loudspeaker shout. This makes me angrier than anything else.
“What, after September 11?” I say, outraged, my words garbled because of held-back tears.
“Shh,” my mother warns, looking worriedly at the protestors. Yeah, like they could have heard my barely-English half-whisper from all the way across the avenue, over the racket they’re making.
I get home and my friend gives me a call. “So there’s this program called AISAC, the American Israel Student Activism Committee, and I would like to start one at our school. Can I count you in?” she asks.
“Definitely,” I say. The protest I saw earlier comes to mind.
Israel is my homeland. It always was and always will be. I will wave its flag forever. Blue, white. Blue for the Gulf of Eilat in the south. White for the snow-capped mountains in the north. That is my Israel. That is the Israel that belongs to every Jew.Talia Weisberg is a Junior at Manhattan High School for Girls. She won the 2009 NYC Spelling Bee and tied for 42nd at the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. She also won awards at the 2009 and 2010 NYC National History Day competitions. She also created Bleep! (sites.google.com/site/bleeporganization), an organization whose mission is to stop kids and teens from cursing, and Maidelle (maidelle.com), a writing Web site for Jewish teenage girls. In whatever spare time she manages to find, she likes obsessing over college, playing with her rescue dog Lacey, exploring Judaism''s connection with women, and going to rock concerts.