Writing this came about as a suggestion from a friend after I experienced the first ‘live’ antisemitic comment directed to me personally. That I will explain later. She was more than very surprised that this had not happened to me previously, how I’d got so far in life without experiencing it..
I’d like to make people who live in the ‘ghetto’, in Sydney’s east, aware of it, especially Jews.
I went for a walk along Bronte Road, Waverley a couple of weeks ago, where I noticed a new shop being fitted out as a Pita shop. Apart from loving it, being a Coeliac it’s something I can actually eat.!
The doors were open and I got chatting with the two men there, one turned out to be the owner. I asked if his falafel was gluten free. He wanted to know why and explained that frequently in Australia it was not. He made some comment like it didn’t matter was in it,. I explained as a Coeliac it does and, by law, he has to make that information available. He starting raving about the fact it was no ones business and it was a secret recipe and raved on and on about it … and then came the punch line.
Trust a bloody Jew to stick their nose in where it wasn’t wanted and that he wasn’t going to divulge anything to anyone.
I may have said more, I don’t remember. As I walked away I decided to take a photo and it turned out to be just as he walked out of the premises.
I explained my background to the person who questioned the fact I had never been confronted by antisemitism.
I grew up in the East End of London, which was a shtetl.
“A shtetl was a small town with a large Jewish population, which existed in Central and Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. Shtetlekh and shtetls were mainly found in the areas that constituted the 19th century Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire, the Congress Kingdom of Poland, Austrian Galicia and Romania.”
So I grew up in a very Jewish area speaking Yiddish because many people, like my both sets of grandparents, were from Poland and the Ukraine and spoke no English. The people my parents befriended were also minorities. Irish, Indian and West Indian. Also homosexuals, a rare thing then but my parents were Communists, so unlike other people had no prejudices.
My sister and I were raised on the ideals of my parents that “people are people, no matter what race, creed, religion or colour and that there is good and bad in all people, so to judge for ourselves on an individual basis”
I attended a Church of England boarding school. There was one other Jewish girl and neither of us ever experienced any antisemitism.
I had one other experience, though not directed towards me, when I worked in a department store. I was chatting with the guy from visual display when something happened with someone Jewish. I really don’t remember what it was. I do remember tearing strips off him, saying that as a Gay he must have experienced animosity towards him, and as a minority he should not be anti anyone. Then I said ” I am Jewish”. That was one of those lightening incidents “You don’t look it” type of thing.
My husband on the other hand lived in the Midlands and was subjected to many violent antisemitic attacks.
I am not sure how long ago the following happened, it was well before the advent of Facebook.
I got very friendly with two people on the Yahoo message boards which were an absolute hotbed of hatred, racism and antisemitism. One Lisa, had my back more times than I care to remember, especially after everyone else Jewish had left. So did Vince. Both were and still are pro-Israel and are both now FB friends.. Vince is blocked more times than I am on FB. Lisa and I spent hours chatting on the forerunner of Skype.
This was a shocking period of my life and I wasn’t far from a breakdown over it. I cannot begin to repeat comments, they were beyond atrocious. It’s a huge story, maybe for another time, but I succeeded, by threats, to get Yahoo to close the boards down. I even had a letter from them thanking me for me work.