I would feel safer in an Israel than in Europe, I told my husband, during a recent discussion on travel. I realize the magnitude of this statement, considering the conflict in that region of the world, but, as a Jewish person, I stand by it.
This isn’t to say that I’m about to pack everyone up and head to Israel, but if I had plans to go there, I probably would keep them. Despite everything that is going on, at least there I’d know everything possible was being done to keep my family safe. I know I can’t say the same for Europe, given the rise of antisemitism in such countries as France, which has many Jews seeking a better life in Israel.
Although the recent instances in the United States are disturbing, they haven’t, in my mind, become bad enough for me to consider life elsewhere. Still, being mother has put me in protective mode and has me thinking twice before going somewhere that could endanger my family’s life.
Before becoming a parent, I would have proudly attended a pro-Israel demonstration, such as the recent one in New York City. This time, not so much. Although, I’m always anxious about bringing my son to crowded areas, I knew that this particular event likely could have attracted an angry counter protest. Fortunately, by all accounts, the rally was without incident. But what if it wasn’t? What if an argument got out of hand? What if there was a premeditated attack on participants? How could I live with myself for putting my son through that.
Avoiding rallies is one thing, but as a Jewish parent, there will be times when my family will be some place where our religious indentity is on display. Will our synagogue be attacked while we are there for sabbath prayer services? Will my children be called derogatory names during an outing with a Jewish camp?
I realize that social media may make the problem seem worse than it is, and the world may not be any more antisemitic than it has been in the past. Still, it is hard not to read reports of Jews being refused entry into restaurants, denied medical care or targeted for attack via Facebook and not wonder about the safety of your own family. Sadly, I even have read status updates discussing what Jewish friends would do in the event of another Holocaust.
As I mentioned earlier, I still feel safe in the United States. I am lucky to be in a country where I have, among other things, freedom of religion, and the ability to engage in a meaningful debate on world affairs. I am blessed to raise my son in a place where he can enjoy being a kid, without him knowing the threat of constant attack. I hope it will always be that way, and I wish that for all children, no matter where they call home.