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As a Zionist

I now know that, as a progressive, my allyship was always considered expendable.

The Israeli flag is screened on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on Nov. 7, 2023, exactly one month after the murderous attacks on southern Israel perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
The Israeli flag is screened on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on Nov. 7, 2023, exactly one month after the murderous attacks on southern Israel perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Meli Siegel. Credit: Courtesy.
Melisa Siegel
Melisa Siegel is a freelance writer.

I shouted for justice: “Say Her Name!” I must have posted it at least a hundred times because she should never have been killed. Breonna Taylor is her name. The police had a no-knock warrant but went to the wrong house. Breonna was shot and killed in her own home. A life extinguished with cold injustice.

I shouted for justice: Elijah McClain. A sweet young man who was just trying to walk home. He was stopped and harassed by police. Then he was killed by an elevated dose of ketamine after he begged them to let him go home.

I shared the phrase more times than I could count: “Black Lives Matter.”

I yelled “Tax the Rich” because there are homeless veterans living on the street.

I yelled “Healthcare for All” because there are people who can’t afford a therapist, a biopsy or lifesaving medication.

I marched; I wrote letters; I donated so that all women could have the right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term.

Then, on Oct. 8, I watched as the same people I had stood with for Black Lives Matter, Healthcare for All and My Body My Choice marched to defend terrorists. Terrorists who ruthlessly executed 38 children, including two infants; five children younger than 6; five more under the age of 10;, and 36 between 10 and 19.

As the progressives marched on Oct. 8, they shouted “by any means necessary.” In other words, they believed that the execution of those babies, toddlers and children was justified. They believed that the abduction of 42 children was justified.

That was the day I changed forever. Everything I had worked for and believed in fell apart. I thought that the people with whom I had aligned myself believed that everyone mattered. Everyone. Not everyone except Israelis. Not everyone except Jews. On Oct. 8, I learned that progressives believe these lives are expendable.

I will never consider myself anything close to a progressive again if progressive means justifying the murder and abduction of children—the most morally bankrupt belief conceivable. These people poured alcohol on open wounds with the same arrogance as Germans marching into Poland in 1939.

Since Oct. 7, Jews have been in constant grief. But I have not only been grieving for the hundreds of souls we lost. I am grieving for my beliefs, which have now been shattered. I am grieving for the political home I thought I had. I am grieving for the betrayal of those who were never really my allies.

I now see that it is unsafe for me to align with anyone who says “by any means necessary” because they may consider my death to be a necessary means.

It is a strange feeling to be politically homeless, after years of feeling pride in “resistance.” It’s like waking up on an island with no ship in sight. And if the only ship that showed up was a Democratic Socialist ship, I would be stranded forever.

But the reason I will no longer donate, make phone calls or perhaps even vote for the Democrats is because of the millions of Democrats who have stayed silent. The ones who think it is ok to be neutral on this issue even after everything we have learned about how the Holocaust was able to happen.

I expected Democrats to care about antisemitism—to call it out without always adding “and Islamophobia.” 

I recently visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I was struck by so many things, but I will name just two of them here.

First, there is story after story of Germans who looked the other way; who stayed silent when their Jewish neighbors disappeared, who participated in the looting of Jewish homes and businesses.

Second, there are the thousands of names of people who saved Jewish children and Jewish families. We call them “Righteous Among the Nations.” There were so many names I had never seen before; so many good people who did the right thing.

We always have a choice whether to speak or remain silent; to listen to the different perspectives of those to whom we normally might not listen; to consider whether we might be wrong; to step away from the crowd and lose friends for the sake of what’s right; to acknowledge the pain of all sides and all people.

I have had to make the difficult choice to step away from the left. I am not really on the right either. Not so long as I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I am somewhere in the middle with the majority of people who reject extremists, reject antisemitism and reject “by any means necessary,” no matter which side it comes from. I am officially unaffiliated.

I’ve been told that my allyship shouldn’t be transactional; at the same time, it has been made clear that my allyship is expendable.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is to believe people when they tell you that you don’t matter to them.

Most importantly, I will now vote only for candidates who stand unconditionally with Israel. I am not speaking “as a Jew.” I am speaking as a Zionist. As a Zionist, I stand with the singular country that guards the culture and existence of a tiny 0.2% of the world population: the Jews.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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