Leila Jabarin

Leila Jabarin

Sometimes I think my story sounds so insane that I am afraid to tell it – lest people would not believe me.

I was born in Hungary, in a concentration camp, by the name of Yelka Bershatzki, and was forced to spend my early childhood in a dark underground shelter. The very fact I can speak with you today is no less than a miracle – I was not supposed to survive more than a few days in those horrible conditions.

Luckily, the night I was born one of the German doctors my mother had had to work for turned out to be our guardian angel. He hid us – my father, mother, brother, two sisters and me – in a damp basement for more than two years, until the camp was liberated by Soviet and British forces. We went back to Yugoslavia, and in 1948 my parents decided to leave the bleeding European continent behind and immigrate to Israel. I still remember very clearly our hardships on the way here, being utterly insecure about our chances to successfully cross the Mediterranean by ship and reach Haifa port. Fortunately, all of my family survived the journey.

The next twist in my life story occurred at the age of fifteen, when I met my future husband, Ahmed Jabarin. He captured my heart with his love and care, and after a long courting period I decided to follow my heart and marry him, even though he was not a Jew. At first, my family had a hard time putting up with it, but as years went by they softened up and made their best efforts to accept my choice.

In recent years, antisemitism, islamophobia and xenophobia are on the rise all over the world. Jews are being slaughtered in synagogues (in Pittsburgh and San Diego) and Muslims are murdered in mosques (in Christchurch, New Zealand). The victims, Jews and Muslims alike, are killed as a result of the same burning hatred towards “others”, towards minorities who can easily be blamed for the western society’s failings.

Hatred knows no boundaries – once I was persecuted for being a Jew, now people are after me for being a Muslim.

We are all God’s children, and God doesn’t care which prophet you follow. Our duty as human beings is to remember what happened in the holocaust and educate future generations about the fatal consequences of blind hatred.

Moses, Muhamad and Jesus can all coexist.

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