When it comes to religion, I'm never quite sure where I fit in. I identify as a Catholic/Jew, as that best reflects my upbringing and feels like the most comfortable fit. I have no problem explaining the somewhat confusing upbringing to people when they ask. I flit between the two and have major respect for both religions and their customs.
But there's a dark side to Judaism. It became apparent to me at a very young age - eight, to be precise. "Jew Girl" became a nickname at school for me. It didn't really feel like an insult at that age and I brushed it off with my childhood naivety. But then I got older, and the true extent of how difficult it is to identify as Jewish became glaringly obvious to me.
Secondary school presented me with a whole host of problems. Most notably, the disgust I would be greeted with whenever my Jewish side became knowledge. It's followed me around ever since - people stating that they wouldn't trust me (because of my Jewish heritage), being told I should have a nose job (it's not that big) and generally being blamed for every crisis going on in the world right now.
I'm a member of a student forum - The Student Room - and I'm sickened by how often there is a thread created that rapidly degenerates into something along the lines of "OMG THE JEWZ DID IT!!!!!1" whenever a tragedy is mentioned. Not to mention the fact that supposedly educated university students cannot differentiate between Judaism and Zionism (but let's save that for another time)
Enough is enough.
I don't care if you think that Jews are the root of all evil. I don't care if you think that "Jewish noses" are an abomination. I couldn't care less if you believe us all to be Shylock-esque characters with shady ulterior motives. When I care is when you make your disgusting views public and spout them as if they were fact.
People insist that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. I can assure you it is not. I have many Jewish friends and, like myself, they encounter it on an almost daily basis. A friend's rabbi was spat at in the street. Spat at. In the street. In 21st Century London. Feel disgusted yet? No? The man is 67. So not only was he a man of faith, he was also an older gentleman. Whenever I recount this story, I'm greeted with comments along the line of "oh but it makes no difference how old he is or anything." I'm sorry, but has the world lost it's damn mind? Is it now completely acceptable to treat someone in that manner, regardless of their age or religion? Shoot, guess I missed the memo.
I'm not really sure why I'm posting this. I'm angry, sure, but it's something that's bugged me for a while. Maybe I'm just using this blog as a platform to get it all off of my chest. I'm rambling. I apologise.
I don't live in some fantasy world where no harm ever comes to anyone and where discrimination isn't present. I live in the real world. A world where, if you're a frequent visitor to the internet, it is now completely acceptable to be anti-Semitic. Regular, normal, everyday Jews are attacked and provoked over the Israel/Palestine situation. We are told that the Holocaust never happened (it did. Members of my extended family perished in concentration camps. Deny it and I won't hesitate to give you a verbal beating). We're told we're shady, deceitful, arrogant creatures who should hide our religion and be ashamed of ourselves.
You know what I say to that?
Why should I have to hide who I am in case it upsets or offends anyone? Why should my friends at university have to keep their religious status a secret for three years because they're terrified of the retributions? Why should a rabbi develop a fear of leaving his home?
Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I'll be shouted down by militant anti-Semites. But maybe, just maybe, it might cause you think for a second before you tell that oh-so-hilarious Jew joke.
I'm sick of it. They're not funny. They're offensive and they cause genuine harm to people.
As your mother said: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.