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“Do you identify as Jewish or American?”

Over Fall Break, a relative asked me this question during a conversation concerning religion. This immediately puzzled me as I could not understand why the two identities would be – and were forced to be – mutually exclusive. I was puzzled because I could not understand the need nor have the ability-to rank my loyalties. I was puzzled because I never considered myself to be “either/or,” I am and always will be both. I am Jewish and I am American. One word does not modify the other just as one identity does not modify my sense of belonging to each community. My values and teachings from the two cultures conjoin and conflict to create my individual perspective on society, education and politics.

And as an American and a Jew, one of my strongest political beliefs is that my native country ought to support my religious homeland and vice versa. Especially now, during this intense period of conflict, I ask the United States to offer Israel aid and condemn the current Palestinian terrorist attacks. Since mid-September, a wave of violence in Israel has claimed lives and cultivated fear. The conflict was incited after Muslims and Israelis clashed over the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Both regard the site as holy; however, as part of a political agreement designed to maintain peace, only Muslims are allowed to pray atop the hill. Attempting to alter the status quo, a group of Jewish activists have ascended the hill and asserted their right to pray there. This event was the catalyst for a series of random of acts of aggression.

Three weeks ago, Palestinian terrorists shot two parents point blank as their four children sat and watched from the backseat of a car. The children were miraculously unharmed. Days later, two more Israelis were stabbed to death in Jerusalem. One of the men died holding his two-year-old child in his arms. Last Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority declared a “Day of Rage” in Jerusalem. 24 hours of violence ensued with President Mahmoud Abbas’s party encouraging attacks. The stones throwings, stabbings, vehicular rammings and shootings have yet to cease and America has yet to speak.

The Obama Administration ought to condemn the Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel and President Abbas for encouraging the bloodshed. Though this announcement may not produce tangible change, it would nonetheless be a symbol of solidarity. I want America to stand with Israel as a gesture of respect and loyalty. I want America to stand with Israel not because I stand with Israel, but because at the core of both of these countries is the spirit of democracy and the essence of hope. Israel is America’s only ally in the volatile Middle East and a reliable friend that my fellow Americans and fellow Jews cannot afford to lose.

Having my identity questioned puzzled me, but it also forced me to reflect on my relationships to Judaism and to America as well as the relationship between Israel and America. I identify as equal parts Jewish and American and equally loyal to Israel and America as my opinions and experiences have not been influenced by either my religion or my nationality, but rather a combination of the two. Just as I cannot identify myself with only one word, Israel cannot stand alone. Just as I embrace American as my nationality, I hope America will embrace Israel, especially during these troubling times.

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  • So you are worried for the 8 Israelis killed these past few weeks?. Did you spare a thought for the 45 Palestinians have been killed in the past 3 weeks not only by the IDF but also by bloodthirsty racist settlers?

    Your post elides important context: millions of Palestinians have been living under an illegal occupation for 50 years now. There is civil law for Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, and there is martial law for the millions of Palestinians that live next to them. Only one out of ten attacks by Jews on Palestinians results in an indictment. Jewish terrorists are rarely convicted (or even caught!), and when they are, the homes of their family are never bulldozed (unlike the Palestinians’ families’ homes) There are fifty laws on the books that favor Jews and discriminate against Palestinians (see There are “Jews only” settlements and “Jews only” roads. It’s called Apartheid.

    Israel has just elected the most radically right wing government its ever had, replete with ministers that make public racist statements against Palestinians and incite violence against them. Netanyahu has finally (slipped and) admitted to the world that there will never be a Palestinian state. And so guess what? Palestinians are angrier, and more hopeless than they ever have before. They know they’ve been jerked around for years as an uncaring world watched. They are behaving like a people that knows it has no future.

    So really, why bring up Al Aqsa, but ignore 50 years of lying and bad faith negotiations, as well as the horrific approximately bi-annual civilian massacres in Gaza? Don’t you think the rage is cumulative?

    Really, to educate yourself, you ought to read Max Fisher’s Vox article about Danny Seidemann’s speech. Seidemann is an expert on Jerusalem, and he feels this wave of violence is worse (and different) than any other. Jeez, even Jodi Rudoren at the NYT managed a halfway decent article the other day.

    You might also want to check out You’ll never see the truth at Algemeiner or Tablet (maybe very rarely).

    I noticed something about your post. There’s a lot of “me, my, I, I think, I feel, I want,” etc. The effect is somewhat egocentric. The day you become aware of the suffering of others, and develop empathy (and I’m not referring to the members of your tribe) you’ll become a better human being.

    • I agree entirely with what the “Seriously” comment. Here is a link to the Max Fisher article he was referring to. I also recommend reading it.

      And I’m sure the Zombiebis will swarm all over this post trying to prove that there is no occupation–there are merely disputed territories. Or they will say you can call it what you what you want, but it is not illegal. They are simply wrong.

      In 1967, right after the Six Day War, Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked its Legal Counsel, Theodor Meron, whether settlements in the “Administered Territories” (that includes the West Bank) would violate international law. Meron isn’t just any old bum. In fact, he is a Holocaust survivor who had obtained a doctorate in international law from Harvard. Meron responded by writing a Top Secret memo that said,

      “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

      The Israeli government ignored Meron’s memo and used subterfuge to establish the first settlement in Kfar Etzion almost immediately afterward.

      For more on Meron’s memo see:

      In 2012 Israel took its best shot to prove that the settlements were legal when it issued its Levy Report. There was a funny thing about that report–buried deep inside it was an acknowledgement that the International Commission of the Red Cross provided the AUTHORITATIVE interpretation of the Geneva Convention. The Levy Report then interpreted what the ICRC wrote about the Geneva Convention to “prove” the occupation was not illegal. There was only one small problem with this strategy. Juan Pedro Schaerer, head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the Occupied Territories, responded to the Levy report by tearing it to shreds. He said the Levy Report used a “selective and misleading quotation from the commentary published by the International Commission of the Red Cross” to paint a misleading picture. He concluded that “Contrary to what the Levy report maintains, from the viewpoint of international law the West Bank is occupied by Israel. This assertion, like the ICRC’s position that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are unlawful, is based entirely on the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.”

      For more on the ICRC and the Levy Report see

      For more on the Illegal nature of the occupation, see

  • I will begin by saying that your opinion reflects the false narrative of Palestinians who do not recognize Israel’s right as a state to exist. Not only did you attack the writer for being “egocentric” (meaning, she voiced a rational opinion opposing your own), but it is written in a way that is clearly meant to condescend, rather than try to understand. The use of pronouns such as “I” and “my” are the writer’s way of expressing her opinion, and it is not for anyone to tell her that she is wrong. Also, I must explain some issues arising from your post so that perhaps you can be sharpened by the true story, and the facts, however hard it may be to accept.

    A quick note about these “racist settlers’, who are, in your words, murdering innocent people using excessive force. Using force against someone who is coming at you with a gun, knife, cleaver, machete, or other makeshift weapon, is legitimate self defense. How would you, as an American citizen, expect your police to respond to terrorists who kill passersby as well as police officers? Where a Jew lives or visits in Israel does not change whether murder is murder. Do you mean that is ok to kill a person who lives in a particular city in Israel? Are Jews in Jerusalem and Be’ersheva settlers in your mind? Of course, the map of Palestine depicts the entire country of Israel as must be aware of that.

    As for the claims of Apartheid (unique to South Africa), do you really need to ask yourself why Israel has to defend itself with walls and checkpoints against violent attackers? Like 13 year old stabbers who cannot distinguish between right and wrong, you cannot distinguish between the death of an innocent person and a killer, so this is the reason that no Israeli government will be able to grant the Palestinians a state in the near future.

    Also, the belief that this violence is due to recent surges in settlement construction is not substantiated. Building in areas controlled by Israel after the 67 war has substantially decreased over the past 15 years.
    In your third paragraph, you describe the Israeli government as encouraging racist values, and violence against Palestinians. Perhaps you are unaware of the great success of Israel’s Arab community which makes up 20% of the population. Stopping terror is not racism. However, I think you may find racist the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah organization, who, just last month, praised “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem”. Abbas has not condemned any one of the 30+ terror attacks on Israeli citizens over this past month. Speaking of racism, Abbas has said that not one Jew would be welcome in his theoretical state.

    You can recycle the old Palestinian lies, but only telling the truth about what is right and wrong will help the Palestinian cause. The root of the issue is failure to accept (since 1947) a Jewish state in Israel. In the words of Ambassador Ron Dermer, “Palestinian terrorism is the product of incitement, which inculcates a culture of hatred and violence in successive generations. The biggest frustration of the terrorists is that they have failed to destroy Israel. They will continue to be frustrated.”
    This article of the writer’s experience has been approached in a thoughtful way, and I second her call for American support for Israel.

    Read more:

  • Show your customers that your small business is built upon the hard work and dedication of your employees. If you are determined and you do enough advertising, you will be rewarded. However, there are some publishers who offer writing workshops.

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