Award-winning writer and lecturer Barbara Sofer grew up
in a small town in Connecticut, and moved to Israel in 1971. She is a
graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. Her articles -taking on a wide range of subjects from ethnic
cooking to terrorism--have appeared in The New
York Times, The Boston Globe, Parents, Readers' Digest, Woman's Day,
Hadassah Magazine and Inside Magazine
among many others. She writes a bi-weekly column for the Friday Jerusalem
Barbara has written five books and contributed to
EXCERPT FROM CURRENT ARTICLE
The Human Spirit: 'Where are you from?'
By Barbara Sofer
I'm usually quick to answer "Jerusalem" but on a recent trip to Italy, I decided not to answer at all. Why not? I decided it simply wasn't the business of every beach peddler who wanted to haggle with me about the price of sunglasses to know from where I hailed. I imagined the peddlers, most from countries with Muslim majorities, discussing their day's sales and the subject coming up of that middle-aged couple from Israel, reading and sunning on the Adriatic. In Florence, my husband was wearing a kippa (as opposed to a hat) on Shabbat eve, when we were heckled by a group of young men of Middle Eastern appearance. Indeed, we felt vulnerable.
We're not the only ones.
Many Italians we met are concerned about their safety – or so it seemed to us. Those who knew from where we were expressed interest and empathy for Israel.
The evangelical Christians are, of course, in a wonderful supportive category of their own. When asked by the 30-something owner/manufacturer of a leather goods factory whom we met in one of his posh shops about our origins, I took a gamble and said "Jerusalem."
Immediately he was eager to hear what was really happening in Israel.
He was typical of the Italians we met who wanted to get beyond the clichés and knee-jerk condemnation of Big Bad Israel.
He asked us for Internet sites that provide news and commentary with a wider perspective – something that would give him a way to let him make the case for Israel over espresso with his friends, who might be ready to climb down from the anti-Israel tree if they had the full picture.
What might be causing such a change? First, there are the ubiquitous, nauseating pictures of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in those orange suits prior to their beheadings.
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