Raising a Quiet Voice


The Times of Israel


Raising a Quiet Voice Amid Blaring Antisemitism

by Nancy Ancowitz


I’ve long struggled with feeling drowned out by others’ opinions. To the extent that I’ve learned from that and gotten my voice heard, I’m eager to inspire others to do the same – especially my fellow introverts.

As we commemorate the life’s work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we tap into the power of finding our voice – and speaking about what matters to us, even if others disagree. That can be extra challenging for us introverts. This is often true when it comes to politics, which can trigger our imposter syndrome if we don’t feel like a leading expert.

As of recently, I find myself speaking up more. In response to the quotidian “How are you doing?” rather than my usual New Yorker shorthand, “K. U.?” I’ve stretched beyond my comfort zone and shared, “Heartbroken. About the war in the Middle East.”

If you inquired further and I felt safe enough, I might stretch more: “I’m horrified by Hamas’s savage attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023 – and the gaslighting of Jews around the world.” The ghastliness of “gas” in the same breath as “Jews” notwithstanding, recently I’ve watched swastikas brandished from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to the Sydney Opera House.

I feel too raw to risk a political debate, despite the “silence is violence” messaging from the progressive zeitgeist. I wonder where I belong – at a wake for the woke who lean in to blame victims?

At the core, I’m against all violence and the suffering of all people. But I’m pro-defending a democracy that’s been attacked. I’m pro-freedom of speech. But not hate speech. Not speech that incites violence.

Incoming missiles pause a call with a friend in Tel Aviv. Vile, violent images flash on all my devices: mutilated, half-naked bodies in pickup trucks and grandmothers carted off on motorcycles. Plus protests. Masses of students and professors from ivory towers with double standards – and their presidents spreading milquetoast pronouncements about crowds on campus extolling genocide, as long as the target is Jews.

Jews are white and successful, right? So, they must be oppressors, right? (Actually, the majority of Jews in Israel are of Middle Eastern and African descent and are from all economic strata.) In a binary world of oppressors and oppressed, the one form of racism that remains politically correct is antisemitism.

Dual narratives. Moral equivalency. Virtual virtue signaling. Intersectionality. At the center of all those terms batted about are Palestinian civilians, who are manipulated and brainwashed from childhood by the terrorists in charge, who’ve earned a gold star for PR.

Hamas is transparent that its end goal is to kill Jews – descendants of those who wore yellow stars that their Nazi mass murderers forced on them. Speaking of descendants, should all of us cede our land to whomever lived there before? And before what? Where do we start the timeline to honor indigenous people?

Why are educated people defending a death cult and its fans who use their own people, half of whom are children, as human shields? Hamas has long spent international aid on infrastructure – but not to educate those children and lift its society from poverty. Instead, it has constructed elaborate tunnels under hospitals, schools, and mosques from which to shoot missiles at Jews. That same terror organization and those it represents wildly cheer on the kidnapping, torture, and incineration of Jews – and promises to do more of the same. Its own charter, based on religious extremism, is dedicated to the decimation of Israel, forcing the Jews “into the sea.” Up next: the United States.

Will I get cancelled for writing this? Fired? Hate mail? Worse? Those I admire are taking a stand. Are fearless. Like the few Palestinians with the guts to denounce the violence their leaders are inflicting on their own people. Creepily, the internet finds some of them for me, tracking my pulse, feeding into my feed. It reads my psyche with tropes like “Me, too, unless you’re a Jew” – amid a chilling draft of silence from women’s organizations worldwide, especially at the UN, in response to the mass rape of Israeli women. Righteousness rules. So, wake me up when it’s over?

That’s the same UN, through its UNRWA arm, with its multi-billion-dollar international funding, that preaches the hatred of Israel and Jews to Palestinian children, who are born into a society that kills those who don’t agree with them: including Jews, Americans, former Muslims, LBGTQ individuals, and anyone who supports democracy.

I belong to a tribe that’s been enslaved, tortured, and murdered for thousands of years. Scapegoated. Still, I refuse to be a victim, even though I could hide my Jewishness. “But you don’t look Jewish,” and “You can still change your last name,” I’ve heard. It’s a tribe that some say is chosen, but doesn’t want to get picked on. Who does?

Democracy is at jeopardy with Palestinian PR lines like, “From the river to the sea….” My grandparents fled antisemitism to contribute profoundly to the United States, a land that’s been a refuge for many, from sea to shining sea. Yet the tides have turned, with a tsunami of Jew hatred.

I reflect more on Dr. King, a role model for anyone subjected to hatred and prejudice, to use one’s voice. Like much of what he shared, these words of his anchor me: “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”

So, how am I doing amid the rising tide of antisemitism, which remains a socially acceptable – even hip – form of hatred? With a heart that continues to sink, this introvert is using her voice. Why now? I believe my words can have power – because I’m speaking my truth. Thank you, Dr. King. If you believe your words can have power, too, please join me.

Copyright © 2024 Nancy Ancowitz