I have three teenage children who are proud Americans and Jews. They are also a product of a mainstream youth culture where progressive political and cultural views are normative.

I’ve been chided for not going along with perspectives to include my lack of sensitivity to my own “privilege" as a white male or my misapplication of preferred gender pronouns. Terms such as canceling, deplatforming, microagressions and safe spaces were all unknown to my vocabulary. Now they are regularly discussed at the dinner table in favorable terms.

Terms such as canceling, deplatforming, microagressions and safe spaces were all unknown to my vocabulary. Now they are regularly discussed at the dinner table in favorable terms.

All my children have visited to Israel and take pride in its existence. But they also questioned why I had such an issue with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement that targets Israel’s economy due to perceived mistreatment of the Palestinian people. I shared videos that didn’t seem to resonate on the link between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Why couldn’t Israel loosen up and give what needed to be given for the sake of peace?

Dinner conversations over the sacrifices of Israel’s War of Independence, the miracle of the 1967 War and the near catastrophe of the Yom Kippur war were met with glazed eyes. My wife’s memories of spending a semester in Israel during her college years during a period of frequent suicide bus bombings were as relatable to them as me imagining trench warfare and mustard gas during WW1. Both remnants of past conflicts best left to history books.

My kids were too young to remember much about the last major blow-up in Gaza back in 2014. So the day the missiles started raining down on Israel was quite a shock. What happened to the peaceful Palestinians who just want their own land and are stuck in refugee camps? How could some of these same people be capable of launching thousands of rockets that could reach 70% of the country? The Free Palestine movement was about yard signs, marches and maybe the occasional thrown stone. But entire cities under siege and children being shipped off to safe locations far from the border rather than school seemed a bit much. Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters in the middle of the night praying that the most advanced weapons defense system on the planet would protect them from a peace-seeking people who only wanted coexistence didn’t seem to make sense.

As the conflict raged on the questions only grew. Why are they attacking Israel? How is that peaceful? I thought they already control the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock? I thought you said we conquered it back in 1967 and gave it right back for the Muslims to control? Why can’t Jews pray there too; I thought it was the site of our temple? You mean the rockets are just being shot from Gaza at random? A bunch of their own rockets are landing in Gaza but Israel is being blamed? If Israel intentionally kills women and children why would they tell everyone in a building to get out before they destroy it? Won’t that let a lot of terrorists get away?

The final stage was when it became less about Israel and more about Jews.

The final stage was when it became less about Israel and more about Jews. Tik Tok videos with Jewish content filled with reams of antisemitic comments, a video from London to ‘F--- the Jews and rape their daughters”. Footage in Los Angeles of thugs assaulting Jews at restaurants and clips of Jews being beaten up in Manhattan. Vandalism at a synagogue in Skokie 45 years after the infamous Nazi march in the streets.

And it became even more personal. All of my kids feel like they had to defend "Israeli aggression” in school because they were the only Jews in their class. Their friends' social media feeds pepper them with “Free Palestine” and accuse their coreligionists with war crimes. Their friends were parroting what they had heard from influencers like Trevor Noah and John Oliver without any insight or historical context of the conflict.

Last night I put my 13 year old to bed under a stream of tears after hearing she got into a back and forth with one of her friends on social media and refusing to apologize for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself. I woke up this morning to an email from the Hillel director of the college my eldest child plans to attend discussing recent antisemitic attacks on campus, including calls of “dirty Jew” and swastikas on campus.

My children have “woke” up to the fact that what starts with anti-Zionist screeds against European imperialism and subjugation morphs to implicit support of blatant terrorism and ends in indiscriminate antisemitism. Their presence as a Jew advocating for their ancestral land is a micro aggression to their classmates who don’t want the prevailing narrative of Palestinian oppression questioned. Their safe space that tolerates diversity and respects minority rights is now a bastion of name calling and playground taunts.

I am saddened by this round of fighting and relieved the ceasefire is holding. And I take solace that my children learned a valuable lesson. When push comes to shove, no matter what we wear, how we look, what we think or where we live, we will always be defined by others as being a Jew. That is how we must define ourselves. We will never apologize for that or for the right for us to exist and defend ourselves in our ancestral homeland.

May we all merit for lasting peace in the land of Israel and our communities across the globe.