Laziza Dalil @ The Forward (h/t Watch: Antisemitism in Europe):
The first time I ever experienced anti-Semitism was in Europe. I was waiting for a bus on Avenue Niel in Paris’s 17th arrondissement when I noticed an elderly woman looking at me from across the street. She was small, with wispy white hair and a shopping basket filled with vegetables and a baguette. The way she stared I thought perhaps it was a compliment—maybe I reminded her of a young girl that she knew, or even of herself in her youth. When my gaze caught hers, I smiled, thinking she would respond in kind.
Instead, her face froze with contempt. She muttered, “Paris was much cleaner when the Germans were here.”
I wanted to say that the joke was on her—I was neither French, nor Jewish—but of course, that wasn’t the point. We are human beings above all and I was shocked that another human being dared to insult me because of her perception of my ethnicity. Yes, her remark had missed its target; but instead, it hit so many of my friends and peers back home.