Elayan says he wrote the tweets as an angry teenager after taking a trip to Jerusalem to visit family. “My guilt at my privilege, and my anger at their living conditions, left me looking for someone to blame. As a teenager, I directed my frustration at the Jewish people, posting comments on Twitter that were ugly and hateful,” he acknowledges.
He says his views changed as he grew older and learned more about the “complex issues in the Middle East.”
“With education and self-reflection, I learned I was unjustly blaming and demonizing an entire group of people,” he said. “Throughout college, a number of experiences helped me realize how misguided my anger at the Jewish community was.”
Elayan says he subsequently removed the antisemitic comments from his Twitter profile.
However, the tweets had already been noticed. When screenshots of them began surfacing online, Elayan said “it filled me with disgust to be associated with words that I saw to be hateful and wrong.”
Writing in JNS, he decided to make his story public in the hope that “someone who may harbor the kind of prejudice I used to will see that hatred towards others is a choice we make, and like me, decide to make better choices.”
Elayan recently reached out to StandWithUs, an organization that supports Israel and fights antisemitism. He particularly connected to Hussein Aboubakr, author of Minority of One: The Unchaining of an Arab Mind and an educator for the organization.
“We hope that this story helps others see what we see: That combating antisemitism is not just about pushing away hate but also bringing in new friends,” said the organization.