Darkness Into Light

8 years ago Risa Mond 0

“America, home of the free.” This phrase encompases our constitution, the document by which law-abiding American citizens live by. One amendment to this constitution is the freedom of speech. I personally have always been fascinated and a fan of this fragment in the constitution. You don’t like something? Say what’s on your mind! You might be reprimanded by peers, but the government can not punish you for speaking out. In fact, you can even say what you don’t like about America, and it is there laws that allows you to do that!

However, these rulings are given to us in thought that we use them wisely, for good. But this past week, something so disturbing happened using this same exact law that captivated so many Americans- for evil.

An ad reading, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah, That’s His Jihad. What’s yours?” next to the image of a young man in a checkered headscarf has been plastered all over buses and subway cars. On an average weekday, around 11,000,000 riders use New York’s public transportation. That is 22,000,000 eyes staring at this demeaning poster every single day.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Koeltl ruled that the MTA [Metropolitan Transit Authority] must post the new ads, despite worries that the controversial posters could lead to violence.

Koeltl stated, “…there is no evidence that seeing one of these advertisements on the back of a bus would be sufficient to trigger a violent reaction. Therefore, these ads — offensive as they may be — are still entitled to First Amendment protection.”

Ironically, the group responsible for the production of these ads and the lawsuit to run them are not an Islamic group, rather a a pro-Israel association, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).

This New York City case is not the first victory for this group, only one of the nine lawsuits they have filed across the country, most of them against cities for not running their ads.

Just one of the many troubling posters this group is responsible for, illustrates Adolf Hitler meeting with “the leader of the Muslim world”, which pleads that America cuts off all ties with Islamic countries.

When reading on the recent case, both myself and peers automatically thought it was anti-Semitism, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Nevertheless, after delving in more deeply, we saw that it is actually the opposite.

Personally, I think this is a perfect example of how not to deal with the ongoing issues pertaining to Israel and anti-Semitism. As informing and accurate a few of these ads might be- public humiliation is not the answer.

In my previous article, “Attacking Anti-Semitism; The Right Way”, I spoke about being the bigger person in situations dealing with this issue. And here is a perfect example as to why this is true. As hard as it is, we must not stoop to their level. There are enough false news reports giving Jews a bad name, and we do not need to give any other reasons to believe that this inaccurate statement is g-d forbid true.

Though we do have the freedom of speech and are not punished by law for what we say, we are still held responsible for our outbursts. We have the ability to use this to our advantage, or dis-advantage.  Every action comes with a consequence whether it is good or bad.

The Rebbe once said, “Darkness, no matter how ominous and intimidating, is not a thing or force: it is merely the absence of light….The same is true of good and evil: evil is not a thing or force, but merely the absence or concealment of good. One need not ‘defeat’ the evil in the world; one need only bring to light its inherent goodness.”

Reacting to this, I can not help but agree with the Rebbe. My reaction to this, is to keep spreading mitzvos, Torah, and goodness. Now, what will you do? What will your reaction be? I hope you choose to continue spreading the light, love, and pride of a Jew.

To read my article “Attacking Anti-Semitism; The Right Way”, click here.