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Ryan Mauro’s Last Day in Israel: I Stand With Israel

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Posted on August 13 2010 10:00 am
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This is how I feel inside as I prepare to head to the airport.

My trip is coming to an end. I now have to say goodbye to my Israeli friends who I’ve had so much fun with. Stand With Us’ Once in a Lifetime project is something special. It doesn’t just educate people—it bonds them. And as I leave Israel, I feel like I’m leaving the middle of a movie with friends, abruptly cutting off an experience just as it began becoming comfortable and real. I’m great at keeping a straight face and hiding my emotion and affection, but saying bye in a few hours will hurt me inside more than the thorns in my ass, more than the stubbed toe, and more than the Segway crash.

But let’s be real. I know you don’t want to read a blog that consists of me acting sentimental, so let me get back to telling you about my trip. Today, we visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s immaculate Holocaust museum that ends by bringing visitors to a great view of Jerusalem. Leaving, it is impossible not to feel enraged and miserable. Several of my Israeli friends that came told me how their grandparents were in the concentration camps that we saw depicted in photos, reminding me of how recently all this happened. The Holocaust wasn’t a blip in history or a weird moment that can never be repeated. It wasn’t that long ago, and these anti-Semitic, intolerant, themes of hatred and scapegoating still exist today.

You see how these thought patterns of “lite” bigotry of people like Oliver Stone who accuse Jews of controlling the media and the government evolved and escalated. Leaving Yad Vashem, I realize the cost of even relatively light anti-Semitism and bigotry is too high and ignoring it is too risky.

Any remaining vestige of this plague and any sign of its resurfacing must be immediately stamped out, not only because of the consequences for the future but because it’s the best way of apologizing to those we abandoned in the past. We owe it to the victims to make sure their sacrifice at least prevents the suffering of others. And when I walked out of Yad Vashem to a beautiful view of Jerusalem, it really hit me why we must stand with Israel. A sort of conviction arises that I think few people can relate to. Israel is the beauty that arose out of this tragedy—and walking out of the last dark room of books of names of Holocaust victims, Israel’s light shone brighter than at any moment during the trip.

Leaving Israel, I feel like I’m leaving a big part of me in Israel, and bringing a small part of Israel to the U.S. Everything I love about my country, my culture, and my beliefs is embodied in Israel. I stand for peace. I stand for democracy and freedom. I stand for righting history’s wrongs. I stand for human rights and tolerance. I stand with Israel.

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