When my husband and I came to Chicago from Israel so that I could go to graduate school, we had no intention of staying here permanently.
But then the second Palestinian intifada happened, and the Israeli government’s entirely irresponsible and deadly response to same, and we came to a conclusion: We no longer wanted to raise children in Israel.
At the time, we only had the one child, a round-cheeked toddler boy, but the fact of his boy-ness sharpened the point. Our choice came mostly out of a desire to educate him differently, to not sacrifice his up-bringing and our values on the altar of occupation and settlement, but there was an unavoidable sense of having also snatched our son from the jaws of war — because in Israel, of course, every 18 year old boy is drafted into the military. Girls go, too, but they don’t see combat. They don’t die.
I bring this up now because I’ve been thinking a lot about all the parents of African American boys who are holding their sons a little closer today in the wake of the horrible, heartbreaking Trayvon Martin case.
My aunt is one of those moms — white as me, but mom to a black man who was once young, a young black man who was stopped for jogging in his own neighborhood, a young black man for whom she would tremble a little whenever he went into the city.