Jewish Federations of North America, General Assembly, Day One
9:18am: Finally in New Orleans after having left Duke's campus over five hours before! Ready to get this adventure started. On to the French Quarter!
11:56am: Wow, there were so many booths in the exhibit area of the Sheraton about almost every aspect of Judaism and Israel in almost every context, from political to humanitarian to academic and recreational. What a deluge of information! Useful information though. I definitely anticipate contacting many of these organizations in the future to take part in their programs. Plus, who wouldn't love free Abita root beer and a pralinette?
12:53pm: "Free free Palestine
From the river to the sea
Palestine will be free.
Netanyahu, what do ya say?
How many kids did you kill today?
Israel, Israel, you can't hide.
We charge you with genocide.
Stop the killing, stop the crime,
Israel out of Palestine!"
This is the welcome the delegates received as we left the Sheraton to filter to our respective hotels. Out on the street was a group of protesters with signs and megaphones, making their views on this conference abundantly clear. The police, however, could not comment on the situation. Later, though, in the place where the protesters had previously been standing, there was now a line of police cars.
2:10pm: Just passed the new set of protesters on the street; they were carrying signs with sayings like, "Jews killed Jesus" and my personal favorite, "Your rabbi is a whore" (Really??). Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, or maybe it's just because I come from an area where there are not that many Jews, but I have never personally encountered such anti-Semitism before. Nothing that outright. The intensity rather frightened me.
I just walked into a restaurant to get lunch, and I came in jingling in my Mardi Gras beads and Hillel nametag laden with pins and buttons about Israel, and the group of people at one table all looked at me with disgust. I'm not sure what else I could have done to offend them, except being who I am. A couple of them looked at the Hillel ribbons I was proudly displaying and shook their heads. I just don't understand why. They don't even know me. They know one aspect of my entire personhood and from that, they think they have enough grounds to judge me? That's not my philosophy. I was almost ashamed because of the looks of disgust on their faces that I almost took off my badge. But then I realized that not only do I have nothing to hide, I have something to be proud of. I am a Jew. I will always be a Jew. And furthermore, I pledge to always be proud to be a Jew. It is who I am and I feel so great about that part of me since I have embraced it and I would encourage every Jew to cherish their Judaism to what makes them comfortable.
Oh and P.S. Try a po'boy. They're tasty :)
Samantha Tropper is a student at Duke University.