My Jewish Identity in Conflict
When I think of my "cultural identity," my religion--Judaism--comes to mind first and foremost. When I think of my Jewish identity in conflict, racism (in my case "anti-Semitism") is the obvious factor. But to fully define my conflict with my religious identity, I cannot only write from personal experiences with racism. I must also include the anti-Semitism that my forefathers have endured, from the beginning of time up to today, ranging from the Spanish Inquisition to the Holocaust, from the massacre at the Munich Olympics to Iraq's actions in the Persian Gulf War. From direct racism and intended hatred to subtle racism in the form of jokes and passing comments, anti-Semitism has played a big part in my life, and a huge part in the history of my religion.
From the beginning of time, Jews have been oppressed. Dating back to the times of Moses and on until the 15th century with the Spanish Inquisition, the Jewish people have been prosecuted solely because of their religious beliefs. Their courageous battles over time against their oppressors merit much admiration.
Perhaps the Jewish people's greatest tragedy ever is the Holocaust of World War II. In Nazi Germany and throughout Europe in the 1930's and 40's, Jews were branded with yellow arm patches of Jewish stars. They were sandwiched onto boxcars--literally stacked on top of one another--and deported to concentration camps, where the old, the women, and the children were systematically murdered upon arrival. At liberation in 1945, over six million Jews had been killed in these inhumane concentration camps. Somehow, the Jews survived through Adolph Hitler and the Nazis to persevere. But discrimination continued. In 1972 at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by terrorists only because of their religion and heritage. Anti-Semitism continues around the world today. In the recent Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein bombed Israel in several areas even though Israel was not involved in any part of the war. Just a few days ago, on October 26, six Israeli soldiers were killed instantly when a bomb in their jeep, planted by Iranian terrorists, exploded.
Obviously, I have never gone through anything close to what the aforementioned have, but I have endured racism personally. In a high school junior varsity basketball game my sophomore year, our team traveled to a nearby high school. At the very end of the game (it was a blowout in our favor, and there was not much of a crowd), I was dribbling near the opposing team's bench when all of a sudden, one of their players on the bench yelled, "Go home, you fucking Jew!" I couldn't believe it. I just stopped playing and stared at him, while my teammates waited for me to do something with the ball. I had never heard anything like that directed at me before.
At first, I was in what might best be called shock, and then, after time had expired, I walked over to our...