As I write this, I am sitting in a café in Jaffa (Yafo) sipping on water and have just finished a quinoa salad with carrots, red onions, tahine, and mushrooms. No, I’m not a vegetarian (heaven forbid!) I just like eating healthy, don’t judge me.
Israel is the best country in the world. Yes, that is my very biased opinion. The people are warm, ridiculously good-looking, and treat you like family, the food is delicious, the vibe is awesome, and there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
This past Shabbat, I attended a lecture by Neil Lazarus on the situation in the Middle East, and one of the major points he stressed was that many Jews are reluctant to show their pride. He called them the “Jew-ish” Jews. History has shown is that we have a very legitimate reason to be scared, to hide away, to wear our assimilation as a badge of honour. Because when they come for us, we will be harder to find and kill. That is the reality of our history, and this reality unfortunately repeats itself.
However, seeing Israel in all its beauty – its sounds, its smells, it’s big loving heart – I’m not so sure assimilation is the way to go. We have a beautiful culture. A culture we should celebrate and be proud of.
People pick on the weak. They always have. We are small. We are kind. We are eager to please. We are easy targets for bullies. That’s just the way the world works. It’s sad, it breaks my heart, but it’s true.
For many reasons, I had serious self-esteem issues as a kid. I was picked on really badly because of this self-consciousness, because I let the severe bullying get me down. They acted like they were doing this because of some fundamental moral failing in me, so they could feel superior and justify their actions. Bullies love getting people down, and as much as antizionists pretend they have the world’s best interests at heart and want to save those who they claim are suffering at our hands, we should call them for what they are: bullies.
One day I woke up and decided to love myself, flaws (and there are many) and all. I decided to be a good person, and that what others do is their problem. I decided to stop caring about what other people say, hold my head high, and stand proud and strong. Most importantly, I decided to be myself, and if people don’t like that, they are welcome to miss out on the crazy fun adventures that typically ensue when you hang out with me.
I noticed a huge change in how I was treated. I was confident. I took pride in who I was. And, as any issue of Cosmo magazine would attest, I became irresistibly sexy – men started hitting on me. I saw a huge difference in how people treated me, it was uncanny.
People respected me. They wanted be like me. They asked me for advice a lot. I realized I had achieved something they wanted. I am sure that thing is confidence.
Mistake #14: Lacking Confidence!
Real confidence is magical. It is magnetic. It draws people to you. And it is a big missing piece in Hasbara. It is different from arrogance because it is authentic, inclusive, open, and kind. It is egalitarian, not supremacist. It is telling the world that you are proud of your culture, here to stay, and that anyone who disagrees should #@&$ off in the nicest way possible.
Arab culture is an honour-shame tribalist culture, so this confidence and tribal pride is built into it, while all we do is apologize for everything. While we definitely should be the bigger person and apologize for the things we screw up – that kind of humility and heart is something I admire so much about Israelis – we shouldn’t apologize for existing and taking back what was stolen from us. This is Israel, not Canada. We don’t say sorry to burglars when they try to rob our house, so why should we say sorry to the Palestinians for leaving their land in 1948 in the throes of a defensive war that their people started.
Given the Palestinian and Arab governments’ immense confidence (or hubris, I would say), we look like little pipsqueaks next to them. They already outnumber us, they assert themselves without appearing off-putting to Western audiences, they are proud and they all say the same arguments without stuttering and looking at their feet. They form a solid, cohesive unit and, bolstered by their confidence, they are the popular clique of Mean Girls and we are the Science Nerd sitting all by herself in the cafeteria, tutoring everyone in math for nothing in return, as stray french fries and spitballs are continuously launched at her. I was Israel in high school.
The only difference between me in high school and Regina George (the Queen of the Popular Clique), besides the fact that I had glasses, braces, and was bad at sports, was that she had confidence and I didn’t. Her confidence was so magnetic that she got away with doing horrible things to people while still keeping her popularity.
The Palestinian Government is Regina George.
We are amazing. We are beautiful, smart, kind, passionate, talented, versatile, and have a bright future ahead of us. We turned a desert into an incredible, thriving, verdant country! We are facing an uphill battle because we are small, but we can do it if we assert ourselves and hold our head high.
So get out there and wear that Jewish Star. Tell our story. Spread our love. Flaunt our culture. And stop apologizing.
When I was in high school I was embarrassed by my quirkiness and intellect. Now I wear it as a badge of honour. Because seriously, the haters are missing out! And the more confidence and certainty we exude in telling our story, the more credible we will appear. And our confidence will be magnetic and draw people to our story.
I know this because I changed. I made the transition. I learned to love myself and be confident in my beliefs and in my story.
We can do this. We can stand tall, be proud, exude confidence. We have a compelling story, a beautiful culture, and a lot to offer. Now let’s stop letting the haters get us down, stop apologizing, and start standing up for Zion.