My name is Avalon and I am a 19-year-old student at The George Washington University in DC. When I first heard from my friends about what happened to you and your friends on Ben Yehudah Street, my heart ached with shame and disgust.
I am a Jewish girl, and I thought of all the people I walked by in Ben Yehudah Street when I was there this past March. Those people, those who attacked you and those who walked past and did nothing, were supposed to stand up for justice like I had been taught to. They were supposed to defend the rights of the few; they were supposed to protect the innocent. I cannot apologize on behalf of the people who did those horrible things to you. I will not defend the hundreds of people who walked past and did nothing as you and your friends were brutally attacked. It’s indefensible.
Jamal, I am sorry. I am sorry that the culture of my people is such right now in Jerusalem that somehow what happened to you… seemed okay to the crowd. It’s not okay. It’s horrific. The idea that people hurting you struck the people around you as nothing less than normal, something even acceptable, makes me sick and brings tears to my eyes. I am committing to you to be involved in changing that culture.
As a student leader at GW, I want to honor you by telling people your story and teaching that the current military occupation of Palestinian territories in Israel is fostering hate that we must refuse to tolerate. I commit to not being a bystander, to never standing idly by my neighbor who is suffering. I will stand up, for you, your people, and for what is right, socially and politically. I commit to promoting non-violence and advocating for peace talks. I have hope. I hope that you have hope. If we can have hope together, maybe we can build a sustainable peace between our peoples.
I wish for you a full recovery and peace in your home and your heart. I wish for us that we may someday soon, very soon, meet in your town and walk together without incident and walk in whatever city you want in Israel together with your friends without incident.
Standing up, sincerely,
President of J Street U @ GW