© Chuck Duboff
Bari is a former student of mine. I had the great pleasure of teaching Bari both High School English and Drama. Bari always demonstrated maturity and great in sight into life's events. Both Bari and I are Jewish; several days ago I asked Bari if he would contribute to our Blog's ongoing discussion about Racism. I am very proud of Bari that he shared his thoughts and feelings on Racism and specifically the anti-Semitism he experiences.
© Bari Levy
My name is Bari Lavy and I am Jewish… and typing that is terrifying. It seems like every day I see another news piece about Jews being either targeted or discriminated against. 2015 is barely 2 months old yet I’ve heard reports of anti-Semitism coming from France, Germany, the UK and even right here in Canada. Still, I am not a victim, so why am I so scared? Maybe it is because I wear my Judaism on my sleeve to the point that many of my close friends often joke that I am “the token Jew” of our little group. In a way my concrete Jewish identity, which I should be deriving strength and motivation from, leaves me feeling entirely vulnerable. But again, I am not a victim. The victims are elsewhere. The victims suffer from defamation and violence. What do I have to fear? A joke involving loose change or my nose? No, what I fear is apathy.
I recently attended a public lecture hosted by multiple departments at my University where a known anti-Semite preached about the dangers of Zionists and “the Jewish control over Academia”. I sat in the audience and I did not feel scared or angry. However, I did feel worried. I could read through his slander, but this audience comprised of people from all walks of life clearly could not. When I approached the departments that had hosted this speaker, only one agreed to see me. The rest simply did not view anti-Semitism as a modern day threat. And yet soldiers guard schools and synagogues in France.
I do not fear hate. People hate people. People have, do and will hate me, I have accepted that. They hate me on superficial level, on a personal level, and on a cultural level. These people do not scare me. My passion and my determination to keep my head high and a smile on my face will keep their hate at bay. I am afraid of people that don’t know that I have to do this. I am afraid of people who ignore, people who feign ignorance and don’t ask questions. Their blindness to the problems that I see across the globe has me petrified. Their treatment of anti-Semitism as a non-issue does nothing if not facilitate more discrimination and persecution.
I can keep the haters at bay, for now. My fear is that on the day that I can’t, no one will know that I need them standing by my side.