Why I’ve Always Been Silent About Israel and Palestine. And Why I’m Speaking Out Now.
My great-great-grandparents were among the first Zionists. But once I finally started talking, I learned I’m not the only one grappling with my thoughts on the Jewish state.
Illustrations by Gracey Zhang | Center photo of author by Christopher Clauss; archival photos courtesy Caroline Rothstein
In March 1999, I went to Israel for the first time. I was fifteen. While there, I kept a journal. My first entry reads: “Today was my first full day in Israel. Nothing has bothered me. It’s as if the air brings total peace to my body…It’s as if my heritage is my medicine soothing my complaints...I always thought this was HOME and HOLY only to the Jews. But…I was mistaken…I didn’t realize Jerusalem is HOLY to so many other religious movements...I question why this controversy over Jerusalem is so violent…I cannot begin to explain how much of my own personal religious beliefs I have reflected upon in the past two days. It could take years to explain, record, and understand all of this…However, I think that I’ve come to a general conclusion, for the present moment that is…I believe in God. I believe in my Judaism. I believe in my Jewishness. But I don’t know what kind …