I have a friend who, when we left the pro-Israel rally together a couple of months ago, he was carrying a small Israeli flag that they’d given out at the doors.
It was pretty late at night by the time we left. We took the bus together and then when it was time for him to continue on his way home, which included taking the Skytrain, I asked him if he could put the flag away, saying that maybe it was better if he wasn’t so Jewishly conspicuous. He said that the day he couldn’t walk around holding an Israeli flag in Vancouver, he didn’t want to live here anymore.
Either because we’d just come from a pro-Israel rally or because I saw how true that was, I did not argue with him.
I was on the bus the other day and a man a few seats behind me got on the phone with someone who he started cursing out and threatening violently. My immediate reaction was to slide my magen David (star of David) necklace inside my t-shirt. In my mind, if someone is angry, violent and hateful, this will almost definitely be an indication of him also being a Jew hater and because he sounded so crazy, I was worried he would act out against the passengers and I felt especially threatened by him if he saw that I am Jewish.
I also looked around at the people on the bus and wondered, if God forbid someone became threatening towards me, as a Jew, would they stand up for me?
When I read what’s going on in the Ukraine right now, I just don’t get how Jews can live in places where they are very obviously not welcome anymore (if they ever were). Maybe we really should decide if a place is still Jew-friendly by asking ourselves, “Do I feel safe walking around with my magen David necklace showing?” and, “Would I feel safe if I were to carry an Israeli flag on the street/train?” and once the answer becomes a pretty convincing, “No,” then it’s time to leave.
I know it’s easier said than done. I lived in Israel for many years so I can relatively very easily imagine myself living there yet again. For people who haven’t lived there, it could be a much more difficult decision. I also know from talking to people here that there are many reasons people feel the need to stay. Family reasons often being a biggy.
But Jews are asking for it when they stay in a place where they have to hide their identity and where they feel increasingly unwelcome. Don’t you think?