Who Will Speak For Us?

What I cannot tolerate, and what makes me feel lonelier than ever, is a world where the same people who show care toward others, completely ignore me.
May 20, 2021
Modified. Jorm Sangsorn/Getty Images

This is something I’ve pondered writing about for years, and have come close at times, but have avoided until today.

I’m not a fan of speaking or yelling into an echo chamber, so I generally avoid discussing politics on social media. I find that it’s incredibly rare for someone to change their mind, and the emotional energy I expend ultimately results in my feeling depleted and defeated – I’ve achieved no detectable gain – so I just avoid it and focus on the happy, such as family, funny, and sure, informed health updates.

I scroll through my feed and find people posting things I disagree with, and it makes me tense and anxious. Then I’ll keep scrolling and see things I agree with, and it will give me a brief second of calm…followed quickly by the angry argument within the comments, which 99% of the time results in no resolution, even between friends…and I feel tense and anxious again.

On a similar note, I’m never actually satisfied with the parties or politicians running, because I’m a man without a party that I can really be proud to stand behind. I’m a Modern Orthodox Jew living in the USA, with close family and friends in Israel, a flawed democratic country that I truly love; a nurse,  extremely trusting of the scientific community; and a child of British parents who have instilled in me a sense of extremely socially liberal politics. And I’m far too uninformed to have opinions on economics or ideal tax plans. So where does this leave me? Let’s examine for a moment…

I proudly wrote about the causes of the Women’s March movement, Natalia even had a personally knitted P-hat by her Godmother, but they had Anti-Israel leadership in Linda Sarsour and others. I proudly posted my support for the black community, but the BLM movement has consistently come out against Israel, saying not a word about globally recognized terrorist organization Hamas which Israel is actually fighting. I have frequently stood behind causes that actively choose not to stand behind me. This does not make their causes any less important, in fact I still care about each and every one of them, but being a part of such a thing becomes a somewhat masochistic act.

Every few years, Israel is at a state of conflict or war. This is far too complex to get into in a post, and yet simplistic enough to predict when your perpetual peace partner (Hamas) has created a mission statement to wipe you off the earth and drive you to the sea. It’s almost surprising that they are not in a state of war and conflict at all times, but I suppose your enemy does need time to regroup and reinforce before trying to destroy you once again.

I spend my days hearing from dear friends and relatives in Israel who run the gamut from militant to peaceniks, and all of them are hearing the air raid sirens, and running to bomb shelters with their children on a daily basis, their safety successfully terrorized. And then I watch people with no actual understanding of the region beyond memes, retweeting how evil Israel is, with nary a whisper of how evil Hamas is. I see synagogues and kosher restaurants vandalized here in the US, and people attacked year after year for being Jewish, being the victims of blatant Anti-Semitism, but I hear almost nothing from the same communities who stand up for the downtrodden.

I’m Jewish, which means I’m part of the 2-3% of the US population, but did you know that per the FBI, we Jews receive over 60% of the religious-based hate crimes in the country? Wow, I feel so popular!

This week here in my own Jewish community, an attack from cars brandishing Palestinian flags “looking for Jews” here in West LA turned into a violent hate crime. A kosher restaurant in the valley was also vandalized. Police and people in my community have been put on high alert in the likely event of more attacks. And I remind you, this happens every few years, especially when there is a new “wave” of conflict in Israel.

A few years ago my brother’s synagogue in Irvine was vandalized with “Fuck Jews” written in big letters, and these events are simply not uncommon. There are hundreds and hundreds each year, that range from violent physical attacks, to destroying graves. But who will stand up for us Jews?

If you’ve taken the time to read, write or even just share a meme in the past few years caring about others, whether it’s women being treated with inequality, or black people feeling terrified when pulled over for a broken tail light, or an LGBTQ individual for their personal safety, or an Asian person for being attacked for starting the pandemic, then those are all noble, important and crucial things to stand up for. All of those groups (and more) have frequently been given the shit-covered end of the stick in life, and deserve to have their voices elevated, and their safety and equality addressed. But you know what? It would be wonderful to be included in that mix. To see these same celebrities and influencers who know next to nothing about complicated geopolitics, but who take a stand anyway, actually take a stand for us too. You may claim that being Anti-Israel/Anti-Zionist is not the same as being Anti-Semitic, and while in a vacuum that may be true, in actuality try telling that to the many of us who have synagogues/businesses/homes which have been vandalized with Israel/Zionist/Jew as interchangeable vernacular over the years. Try going back in time and telling a 20 year old Boaz walking down UCLA’s Bruin Walk, that every time I walked by wearing my kippah and had people yell “Zionists are murderers” at me, that they were not targeting their hatred toward me because I was wearing that kippah, and it was simply a random occurrence.

I am used to a world where people only care about themselves. It sucks, but it’s one I’ve grown highly familiar with. I’m thrilled by this new world where people actually care (or virtue signal care) about others. But what I cannot tolerate, and what makes me feel lonelier than ever, is a world where the same people who show that care toward others, completely ignore me. They remind me of just how alone we actually are.

Boaz Hepner grew up in LA in Pico/Robertson and now lives here with his wife and daughter. Thus, the neighborhood is very important to him. He helped clean up the area by adding the dozens of trash cans that can still be seen from Roxbury to La Cienega. When he is not working as a Registered Nurse in Santa Monica, he can be found with his family enjoying his passions: his multitude of friends, movies, poker and traveling.

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