GIVE ME A YELLOW STAR! A MOVING AND TIMELY ESSAY.
This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the European Edition of The New York Times
By Eitan Chitayat, TOI
A dreary, cloth patch sewn in the shape of a Star of David that every Jew was forced to wear in Nazi Germany along with every country the Germans conquered; every country allied with Germany ; every culture looking to expose the hated Jew.
The guilty Jew. The filthy Jew. The stealing Jew. The disgusting Jew. The less-than-human Jew. The Jew that can only do wrong – for that is, of course, all we do.
The yellow star was forced on us. Rammed down our throats. It stood for dishonor and was associated with anti-semitism as you probably know. It was to be a badge of shame like Hawthorne’s Scarlet letter. But 6 million times worse.
Today? Shame, can take a hike. Give me a yellow star. Find one and give it to me, quick.
I want to wear a yellow star above my left breast where each and every Holocaust victim was forced to don one. I want to walk around with a yellow star on every solitary piece of clothing I own. On my American Apparel V-neck, my Nike sweatshirt, Ralph Lauren sweater, my Champion hoodie, my Diesel button-down, H&M jacket, Adidas jersey and Gap blazer. I’ll wear it at the beach on my bare chest if I have to.
I want to walk down the streets of Paris and confront people like this. Outside the White house near these friendly haters confronting an ex-marine. In Brussels, the Netherlands, the mosques of Berlin, in streets of Canada – and England especially – to meet this idiot. I’d like to go to campuses in the States, like this one at the University of California, San Diego to talk to this girl here – I’ll be wearing my yellow star.
I want everyone to see me with it and hear them say as I walk in,
‘Hey, here comes the Jew’, he’s just like the rest of them.
He thinks he’s so cool and different.
But he’s just a dirty Jew.
A mass murderer.
He kills Christian and Muslim children and then uses their blood for matzah, just like the rest of the Jews.
They carpet bomb people.
They think they’re so great with their studies and their success.
They kill children, those Jews.
Don’t you know? It’s the Jews who own Hollywood, the media, the banks.
They’re the scum of the earth. They steal things.
Hitler was right. What was that hashtag?
Let’s go spraypaint swastikas on his grandparents’ graves.
Let’s go beat him up.
Let’s kill him. Let’s murder a rabbi in Miami.
That’ll teach them — to exist’.
I want that yellow badge so bad, my blood is boiling.
B*tch, to me that yellow star is a symbol of everything that is good. Not just for me, but for the world.
It’s a symbol of surviving evil. It’s heritage and knowledge. Tolerance and optimism. It’s strength and confidence in the face of the weakness and insecurity of those not being taught well enough what their good mamas should have taught them. That yellow star is courage. It’s education. Resilience. It’s right over wrong. It’s bravery and sacrifice, conviction, and it is life.
It is testament to all who tragically died wearing it, may their memories be blessed, so that their future surviving brothers and sisters know to never be afraid of who they are again. To never be silent again. Whether a Jew or an Israeli, to not apologise for surviving. Thanks to them and indeed, for them, this yellow badge ceased being a badge of shame a long time ago.
For me, it’s a yellow F**k-You-I’m-Here-to-Stay star.
It’s a star that blinds out any other emblem that preaches hatred. It drowns out the form, shape and color of swastikas, the black flags of ISIS and Al Qaeda, and the green of Hamas or the yellow of Hezbollah.
I hope I get to meet any liar that calls me a baby killer or accuses me of genocide or of mass murder. I’ll smash my yellow star in their face, and I’ll smash it in there good. Let them see and remember what true genocide is. What real baby killing is. What ethnic cleansing and mass murder really looks like. What (attempting to) wipe out a race really is. And where ignorance and hatred and the lies you choose to get behind will lead you. Those accusers won’t have to look at history. Because it’s happening all around us. Right now. Across the globe, there’s no escaping what we’re seeing.
Before being herded off to the gas chambers around 70 years ago Jews wearing their yellow star were hearing ‘Kill the Jews’, ‘Heil Hitler’, ‘The only good Jew is a dead Jew’, ‘Stealing Jew!’ – and all that before being ostracized from their communities, stripped of their belongings, property, identities, humanity and eventually, their lives. They were hearing words. It happened in many other countries too. Like my father’s country – Iraq. A country he was expelled from for being a Jew. For being a dirty Jew.
It Always. Begins With Words.
The same kind of words we’re hearing now here on social media. At demonstrations. In conversations. Words that have nothing to do with Israel. Palestine. Politics. The Middle East or anything. You might not be down with ISIS and Hamas, but if you aren’t trying to expose them 24/7 for who and what they are, then you’re not part of the solution to rid the world of them.
The world’s abuzz right now with anti-Israel and anti-semitic words. Anti-semitic words that Jews like myself are used to. I’m talking to you, Dieudonné, Mel Gibson, Roger Waters. And I’m talking to you, Radical Islamic leaders, standing behind your pulpits preaching lies and hate and division in the name of Allah.
I’m talking to you, blind followers of radical Islam, congregating and chanting hatred in your city squares, at town demonstrations, plotting Jew hatred in your homes or openly amongst friends, in the media, and online – in democratic countries taking advantage of the free speech the West gave you, amongst mostly free-loving people.
I’m talking to you, supposedly liberal minded people – friends of mine, even – who spend way too much time talking about my Israel fighting for its existence in a defensive war, but very little talking about hundreds of thousands being murdered in Syria. In Iraq. About people being murdered for being followers of any other religion save Islam. Very little talking about ISIS taking over the middle east and putting heads on spikes, shooting people in ditches by the thousands. Very little time talking about Syrians being gassed and a puke-inducing Turkish Prime minister spewing the kind of virulent anti-semitism which ends with only one thing.
You, my left-wing liberals, are choosing the side of hate. You’re decidedly ignorant. And you suck. Saying death and war is awful and that killing should stop is as far as we’ll agree. But until you provide a solution for ISIS, Hamas, Hezballah, Al Quaeda and the other folks you seem to send your Jib Jab Christmas cards to, just do the civilised world a favor and go back to your Fascist newspaper articles who seem to know how to write, but do nothing else. And don’t forget 9/11, London’s 7/7, Spain’s Madrid train bombings or the Boston Marathon while you’re at it.
Take a good hard look at my yellow star. Look at where it came from. Look what was done after we, the Jews, were forced to wear it and then ask yourselves, are we doing the same to others? Us Jews? Us Israelis? Are we hellbent on exterminating people? Is that really what we want? Or are others doing that which you think we’re doing – others you refuse to be vocal about nor condemn with a simple post or click of your “Like” button.
Fools, I’m not going anywhere.
Never again. Though some might wish it, NEVER AGAIN.
For anyone else reading this from afar who might agree with what I’m saying, Jews and non-Jews alike, don’t feel sorry for me, my family, my friends. Don’t feel sorry for us. We’re fine and we’re not afraid. I’d like to think you know the score and that you’re probably in this with us. Not just because you know it won’t stop with us, but because you’re sane and you’re not blind.
Don’t be afraid because I’m not intending to be a victim. None of us are. And I hope you aren’t either. My yellow star is staring extremism in the face. All of our yellow stars are staring everyone in the face. Blinding extremists with motherf*****g light in a world that’s becoming increasingly black.
Am I down with the yellow star? You’re damn right I am.
Read more: Down with the Yellow Star | Eitan Chitayat | The Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/im-with-yellow-star/#ixzz3LrGFiN5H Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook.
TIMELINE OF DISTINGUISHING CLOTHING FOR JEWS:
Medieval and Early Modern Europe
- Fourth Lateran Council headed by Pope Innocent III declares: “Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress.”
- Pope Honorius III issues a dispensation to the Jews of Castile. Spanish Jews normally wore turbans in any case, which presumably met the requirement to be distinctive.
- Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton orders English Jews to wear a white band two fingers broad and four fingers long.
- Synod of Narbonne rules: “That Jews may be distinguished from others, we decree and emphatically command that in the center of the breast (of their garments) they shall wear an oval badge, the measure of one finger in width and one half a palm in height.”
- James I orders Jews of Aragon to wear the badge.
- The Siete Partidas, a legal code enacted in Castile by Alfonso X but not implemented until many years later, includes a requirement for Jews to wear distinguishing marks.
- In a special session, the Vienna city council forces Jews to wear Pileum cornutum (a cone-shaped head dress, common in medieval illustrations of Jews); the badge does not seem to have been worn in Austria.
- 1269, June 19
- France. (Saint) Louis IX of France orders all Jews found in public without a badge (French: rouelle or roue, Latin: rota) to be fined ten livres of silver. The enforcement of wearing the badge is repeated by local councils, with varying degrees of fines, at Arles 1234 and 1260, Béziers 1246, Albi 1254, Nîmes 1284 and 1365, Avignon 1326 and 1337, Rodez 1336, and Vanves 1368.
- The Statute of Jewry in England, enacted by King Edward I, enforces the regulations. “Each Jew, after he is seven years old, shall wear a distinguishing mark on his outer garment, that is to say, in the form of two Tables joined, of yellow felt of the length of six inches and of the breadth of three inches.”
- 1294, October 16
- Erfurt. The earliest mention of the badge in Germany.
- Emir Ismail Abu-I-Walid forces the Jews of Granada to wear the yellow badge.
- Henry II of Castile forces the Jews to wear the yellow badge.
- 1415, May 11
- Bull of the Antipope Benedict XIII orders the Jews to wear a yellow and red badge, the men on their breast, the women on their forehead.
- Emperor Sigismund reintroduces the badge at Augsburg.
- The Council of Ten of Venice allows the newly arrived famous physician and professor Jacob Mantino ben Samuel to wear the regular black doctors’ cap instead of Jewish yellow hat for several months (subsequently made permanent), upon the recommendation of the French and English ambassadors, the papal legate, and other dignitaries numbered among his patients.
- Pope Paul IV decrees, in his Cum nimis absurdum, that the Jews should wear yellow hats.
- King Sigismund II passes a law that required Lithuanian Jews to wear yellow hats and head coverings. The law was abolished twenty years later.
- Frederick William I of Prussia abolished the mandatory Jewish yellow patch in return for a payment of 8,000 thaler (about $75,000 worth of silver at 2007 prices) each.
- 1935, 15 September
- The Nazi regime announces the Nuremberg Laws, which strip Jews of German citizenship and ban intermarriage between Jews and those of German blood.
- 1938, August 17
- Jewish Germans and stateless Jews with Austrian citizenship are required to adopt additional middle names (mostly Israel or Sarah, few other derogatory names considered “Jewish” were alternatively possible) to be used at any occasion such as signatures, visit cards, addresses, firms etc.
- 1938, October
- Jewish Germans had to turn in their passports to get them stamped in a black J. As Jewish Austrians had been denied German citizenship, their Austrian passports became void.
- 1939, January
- Jewish Germans and Austrians had to adopt special identity cards to be carried on them whenever away from home.
- 1939, September and October
- A number of local German occupational commanders ordered Jewish Poles in their areas to wear an identifying mark under the threat of death. There were no consistent requirements as to its color and shape: it varies from a white armband to a yellow Star of David badge.
- 1939, 23 November
- Hans Frank ordered all Jewish Poles above the age of 11 years in German-occupied Poland to wear white armbands with a blue Magen David on.
- A popular legend portrays king Christian X of Denmark wearing the yellow badge on his daily morning horseback ride through the streets of Copenhagen, followed by non-Jewish Danes responding to their king’s example, thus preventing the Germans from identifying Jewish citizens. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has explained that the story was not true. No order requiring Jews to wear identifying marks was ever introduced in Denmark.
- 1941, June 4
- Jews in Independent State of Croatia ordered to wear “Jewish insignia”.
- 1941, July
- Jewish Poles in German-occupied Soviet-annexed Poland, Jewish Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians as well as Soviet Jews in German-occupied areas were obliged to wear white armbands or yellow badges.
- 1941, August 8
- All Romanian Jews were ordered to wear the yellow badge.
- 1941, August 13
- The yellow badge was the only standardised identifying mark in the German-occupied East; other signs were forbidden.
- 1941, September 1
- Jewish Germans and Jews with citizenship of annexed states (Austrians, Czechs, Danzigers) from the age of six years were ordered to wear the yellow badge when in public.
- 1941, September 9
- Slovakia ordered its Jews to wear yellow badges.
- Romania started to force Jews in newly annexed territories, denied Romanian citizenship, to wear the yellow badge.
- 1942, March 13
- The Gestapo ordered Jewish Germans and Jews with citizenship of annexed states to mark their apartments or houses at the front door with a white badge.
- 1942, April 29
- Jewish Dutch people forced to wear the yellow badge.
- 1942, June 3
- Jewish Belgians forced to wear the yellow badge.
- 1942, June 7
- Jews in occupied France were ordered to wear a yellow star, but the Vichy Regime refused to comply with that.
- 1942, August
- With the German annexation of Luxembourg, the yellow badge was introduced there.
- 1942, August
- Under German pressure, Bulgaria ordered its Jewish citizens to wear small yellow buttons, but contravention was not prosecuted.
- 1942, November
- With the occupation of the French Zone libre Jews there were also forced to wear the yellow badge.
- 1944, March 31
- After the occupation of Hungary, the German occupants ordered Jewish Hungarians and Jews with defunct other citizenships (Czechoslovakian, Romanian, Yugoslavian) in Hungarian-annexed areas to wear the yellow badge.