As I drive around, I see lawn signs along the side of the road promoting candidates running for office. These signs aim to draw the attention of those who drive by in the hopes of gaining some name recognition.
When I get closer to home, I see similar signs advertising the upcoming Turkey Trot 5K race, the fall festival next weekend, and the local contractor installing my neighbor’s new kitchen. All of these lawn signs are innocuous and ubiquitous.
Two weeks ago, my synagogue was selling “I Stand with Israel” lawn signs for congregants to take home and display proudly. I was excited to buy one before they ran out, but when I arrived home, I had second thoughts.
I was afraid to put the sign on my lawn.
Hear me out. I live in a fantastic neighborhood that prides itself on its diversity. Our best friends practice different religions, and we like to celebrate holidays together. My family is far from the only Jewish one on my street and in the community. When the war in Ukraine broke out, many lawn signs and flags popped up in everyone’s front yards. We put one up, too, in support of our Ukrainian neighbors down the street from us.
So, why the hesitation? Why should displaying my “I Stand With Israel” sign be any different?
Because it is different.
Because there is so much misinformation out there about the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.
Because people are getting their news from unreliable and unconfirmable sources and taking it at face value. Flashy headlines sell papers. Retractions and apologies are never front and center.
Because Israel is the only country that is blamed for defending itself against its enemies. Antisemitic tropes about Israel’s right to fight against terrorist aggression can be found in syndicated editorial cartoons, podcasts, and college campuses everywhere.
Because there are people in this world who have hate in their hearts, easy access to automatic weapons, and no self-control.
Because this war is against a terrorist group whose sole mission is to eradicate the Jewish people.
While one might say it’s only a lawn sign, I can also see it as putting a target on our front door. I spoke with a few of my Jewish friends about this, and they generally agreed with me. Several of them told me they have started to wonder where they would hide if terrorism came to our doorsteps. I’ve never had that thought in my life until now, and in today’s political climate, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched.
I’m sure other people — Jewish or not — will think I’m overreacting. But, here’s the thing. At the end of the day, I know who I am, and I don’t feel the need to advertise it. Instead, I will continue to wear my Jewish star around my neck, practice my faith, observe holidays, attend synagogue, write my blog. call out misinformation on social media, and pray for strength and peace.
What would you do?