A poem on racism, identity, Jewishness, Zionism and complexity – The Times of Israel

Posted By on June 22, 2020

I am many things

I am a Jew

I am Israeli

I am American

I am Ashkenazi

I am not European

I am Middle Eastern

I am not White

I am a light-skinned Levantine Semite

I am White-Passing

I am White in the eyes of most Systems

I am hated for not being white enough

I am hated for being too white

I am a beneficiary of White Privilege

I am hurt by White Supremacy

I am helped by White Supremacy

I am not the cause of White Supremacy

I am passively perpetuating White Supremacy

I am RESPONSIBLE for doing my small part to dismantle White Supremacy

I am often asked by white people what ARE you?, because my big nose, my big hair shouts something different!

I am scared when this happens

I am proud when this happens

I am never told you dont look Jewish when this happens

I am a Jew whose Jewishness is never doubted, never challenged because of the color of my skin. I am never asked to show my papers, to prove I belong, unlike my Black and of Color Jewish brothers and sisters

I am part of the Jews who were exiled to Europe; who blossomed in poisoned soil, but whose roots never took

I am part of the Jews who were told to go home; who never stopped praying for the day we could

I am part of the Jews who thought we were passinguntil they finally came up with a solution to weed us out

I am part of the Jews who escaped to Ellis Island, who successfully blended, who enjoyed upward mobility, comfort, stability

I am a descendant of 2000 years of suffering, persecution, and inherited trauma; of 4000 years of uplifting wisdom, tradition, ingroup empowerment, community and success despite all odds passed down from generation to generation

I am a descendent of great-grandparents who fled pogroms, who were beaten and killed for being Jewish; of grandparents who were mocked and taunted and excluded from clubs and workplaces; of parents who had no inherited wealth and fought and saved and suffered to become respected physicians

I am the Jewish generation born not ever knowing a time without Israel able to walk tall without fear because of this psychological security blanket

I am the Jewish generation that is still attacked; by knives, by spit, by rockets, by libel; once again turned into the symbol of all that is evil

I am the generation that knows Jewish Power for the first time since we were carried away from our home in chains for the first time truly free in our own land, able to participate actively in the redemption

I am the generation stumbling, trying to learn to enjoy that power responsibly, often succeeding, often erring

I am a cis-gendered woman; benefiting from and disadvantaged by conditionally white womanhood

I am able to get pulled over on the Jersey Turnpike and worry about the impact on my wallet, not my life; to smile and wink and be on my merry way

I am scared to ride the subway alone at night in NYC because I have been shoved and harassed for being a woman, for being a Jew

I am able to approach an Israeli Police officer in the Old City of Jerusalem and ask for directions knowing worst-case scenario Ill be ignored

I am forbidden from entering some countries, I am in danger in many more countries, simply for being a visible Jew

I am NEVER IN FEAR, in either of MY countries, that the AUTHORITIES are not on my side due to the amount of melanin in my skin

I am propelled ahead as a result

I am selected for success, as a result chosen by systems designed for me and not others

I am handed on a silver platter all that I need to succeed by a deeply supportive and stable family, and their network of successful people

I am held back by mental health issues woven so deeply into my being, preserved by, hard-coded into my nucleic acids from which I can never fully break free

I am able to afford tools to cope that others can not

I am still struggling to succeed because I am afraid of failure and

I am flawed

I am standing at the edge of a diving board, peeking below at the safety net of deep soft waters; soothing me, beckoning, whispering well catch you; and yet,

I am paralyzed stiff while others have NO CHOICE but to jump into the shallows, no forgiving waters to break the fall if they slip

I am afforded the luxury of failure and paralysis


I am a lover of tradition

I am a fighter for reform

I am a pursuer of Justice

I am a pursuer of Peace

I am in need of protection from police

I am in debt to those who protect me

I am in AWE of those who risk and give their lives to protect me

I am in recognition of the fact that this protection disadvantages and harms others, both in the US and here in Israel

I am aware of the need to change this inequity

I am terrified of the physical dangers that could befall my people, both here and in the US, as a result of this change

I am ready to talk about ways to reconcile those competing needs, to think creatively about solutions to meet both

I am striving to become anti-racist

I am striving to fight anti-Semitism

I am striving to become an effective ally in the fight to make Black Lives Matter

I am striving to acknowledge my buried biases and own my shame;to notice my many embarrassing, past and continued, subconscious microaggressions against Arabs, against Blacks, against Jews who dont look like me

I am striving to smile and emit warmth instead of crossing the street in fear when I pass a Palestinian in Tel Aviv; I am mortified that I have to even think to do so; I am aware she may be just as afraid of me

I am striving to seek justice for my Palestinian neighbors

I am striving to uphold justice for my People

I am failing

I am learning and growing through failure

I am taking lessons and inspiration from conversations about systemic racism in America and recognizing an opportunity to learn from and apply them here

I am going to continue pointing out fundamental differences between our circumstances

I am pro constructive criticism

I am against destructive demonization

I am not a western colonizer

I am a tragically imperfect self-emancipator; part of a decolonization movement that both advanced and regressed because of western colonizers

I am an immigrant by choice, not by necessity

I am an immigrant foreigner, yet home amongst family

I am the fulfillment of the 2000-year-old righteous dream to return home and join those who never left

I am tacitly complicit in oppression

I am just a girl trying not to burn toast

I am an occupier of people

I am a liberator of land

I am indigenous to this land. I belong to this land

I am taking up the space of others who belong to this land

I am comfortable saying my People have a RIGHT, maybe even an obligation, to settle and self-determine in all of our indigenous lands including Judea and Samaria

I am prepared to NOT ACTUALIZE certain rights or obligations in order to uphold other divine values and commandments to guarantee essential rights for others

I am keen on finding a more creative solution

I am a Jew who learns from Torah an obligation to love and protect my own; who says never again for my People

I am a Jew who learns from Torah an obligation to extend that love and protection to others; who says never again for other Peoples

I am a Jew who knows sometimes these sentiments are in direct opposition

I am a Jew who knows these distinctions between us and others, between the I and the oneness, are only necessary illusions a part of this temporary, physical realm

I am a Jew who wants to use these distinctions productively because effective external care emerges when we first care for ourselves

I am a Jew who believes in the dignity of difference

I am able to listen to and learn from others who hold very different beliefs

I am understanding of the momentum achieved by drawing lines in the sand

I am aware that change through divide is easier and faster and sometimes necessary

I am hesitant to draw lines in most situations, because

I am a believer that change through unity is harder and slower, but ultimately more enduring

Original post:
A poem on racism, identity, Jewishness, Zionism and complexity - The Times of Israel

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