Diane Gottlieb writes open-hearted stories about people in pain who choose to grow.

Why Is It So Hard to Take a Stand?

I felt freer last Wednesday than I have in a long time.


As many of you know, I’ve been struggling since Oct 7. Not only with the barbarity of the attack itself but with the virulent antisemitism that has surfaced since that day and which can be seen everywhere you turn. Sometimes, it feels like we’re back in the 1930s.


Rage scares me. Hate terrifies me. And scary, too, is the silence in response to all that rage and hate.



There’s the silence of women’s groups after the evidence of gang rapes and horrific torture of young and elderly women, children–and men–on Oct 7 (much of that evidence gleaned from terrorists’ celebratory videos). The silence around the need to bring the hostages home. The refusal of so many to condemn Hamas or shoulder Hamas with even the smallest bit of responsibility for the death and destruction in the region.


But there was also my silence. Sure, if you spoke to me at any length, the topic of Jew-hate was sure to come up. In more public spaces, though (twitter, IG, Facebook), I’ve been silent. And that was a source of tremendous heartache for me—until Wednesday.


Did I make any grand statements on my social media accounts condemning antisemitism on Wednesday? No. Not a peep.


What We Think of As Confusion May Really Be Fear


What I did do on Wednesday was gain tremendous clarity—and I couldn’t have gotten there without the guidance of Sherry Danner, former trauma therapist and the author of Nurturing the Light Inside: Overcoming Addiction and Codependency on the Path to Self-Love. Sherry is a dear friend and the beautiful force behind Nurtured Light. I’ve recently become a member of her Joy Journaling program for women over 50—and I am soooooooooo grateful that I have.


The topic for last week’s Joy Journalism was “Decisions.” I’d like to share with you some of the steps that brought me to clarity on Wednesday in the hopes that they will help you with whatever decisions might be troubling you.


Sherry started off by asking us to list decisions that have dramatically changed our lives. She gave us further prompts around these. Then she asked us to write about a decision we are currently struggling with. She asked us to list the different options (spoiler alert–there ARE more than two options!).


The decision I chose to work with was “Do I speak out against antisemitism on social media?” Writing responses to Sherry’s thoughtful—and thought-provoking—prompts, I explored so much of what was going on for me regarding this question. While I didn’t come up with a definitive answer regarding how I would speak out, my heart and my soul told me YES.


The biggest takeaway, however, and the MOST POWERFUL for me was when Sherry told the group that sometimes we think we are confused when we really are not. Our “confusion” may be our fear talking.

That one concept—what we think of as confusion may really be fear—was the key to my freedom!



When We Let Fear Hijack Our Decisions, We Often Are Disappointed with the Outcome



Here’s just a sampling of what (before Wednesday) was spinning through my brain:


Concern #1: If I say something against antisemitism on social media, I’ll lose lots of followers.


My attempt at dismissing that concern: Don’t be so shallow Diane! And who cares if you lose a lot of followers—if they leave for that, they never were real “friends.”


Concern #2: If I say something against antisemitism on social media, I’ll be like all those self-righteous I-know-all-the-facts people screaming their opinions all over the place.


My attempt at dismissing that concern: No, you won’t, Diane! You do not come from a place of self-righteousness, and you don’t claim to know all the facts. Besides, this is not a new issue for you. You know a lot more about this stuff than many of the folks with the loudest voices!


Concern #3 (And here’s where it starts to get dicey): If I don’t say anything against antisemitism on social media, I am letting myself and other Jewish people down. (Remember my comment about feeling like we’re back in the 1930s? There’s been a great deal of judgment of Jews from that time for not speaking up, for going about their business hoping that antisemitism would not escalate. I am not judging them but, at the same time, don’t want to fall into that camp.)


Concern #4, and Getting Warmer still: I speak up loud and clear for any number of causes that move me—why is it so hard for me to speak up for myself?


Concern #5–The real meat of it all: If I say something against antisemitism on social media, I will get a lot of hateful comments.

There it is!

Had I been silent because I confused??? NO!!

I was silent because I was scared!!! As I said before: HATE TERRIFIES ME!


Now … FEAR IS REAL! I’ve written about it here and in so many of my blog posts! But when we let fear hijack our decisions, we are often disappointed with the outcome. I know that has always been the case for me.




As soon as I identified fear as the source of my “confusion,” I felt lighter and freer and much better prepared to make a decision–one based on my heart.


Will I speak up and out on social media? Maybe. The actual choice feels less important now. My freedom comes with the knowledge that I certainly can speak out and don’t have to!


I’ll break that down.


I can: No longer “confused,” I’ve been able to take much of the fear out of the equation. So what if someone or several or even many people leave hateful comments? It won’t feel pleasant, but I’m pretty certain there will be supportive comments as well—and maybe the statement will help others feel seen and heard, just as I do when I read posts calling out antisemitism.

I don’t have to:  Remember the spoiler alert above: there are more than two options available for most decisions? I can make my “statement” in my writing—not necessarily in a social media post. I’ve pulled way back from social media—it hasn’t been the healthiest space recently (or, probably, ever). Besides, much of my current writing has organically moved towards my Jewish background and roots. Maybe that’s where my focus needs to be.

Unfortunately, much of the literary world is not currently a welcoming space for Jewish voices. Mention the word Israel and all hell can break loose. Take the well-publicized fiasco at  Guernica, a top tier literary journal. They recently published an essay called “From the Edges of a Broken World” written by writer and translator Joanna Chen–and then took the article down. According to Phil Klay in an article he wrote for The Atlantic called “The Cowardice of Guernica,” Chen “weighs her principles—for years she has volunteered at a charity providing transportation for Palestinian children needing medical care, and works on Arabic and Hebrew translations to bridge cultural divides—against the more turbulent feelings of fear, inadequacy, and split allegiances that have cropped up for her after October 7, when 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage in Hamas’s assault on Israel.” Shortly after publishing Chen’s essay, Guernica “quickly found itself imploding as its all-volunteer staff revolted over the essay,” Klay writes. Many of its editors resigned, which led to Guernica‘s pulling the piece, and issuing a statement of regret for ever having published it.


“Brave” for Wearing a Star of David? Really?


(Chen’s “From the Edges of a Broken World” is still available in the archives.  I highly recommend reading it, so you can make your own judgment. My guess is that you will find it to be a powerful, highly nuanced essay that shows the heartache of all involved–not “a hand-wringing apologia for Zionism,” as Madhuri Sastry, former co-publisher of Guernica, referred to it.)

Kay’s article is among many calling out Guernica and its staff. The New York Times, The New Republic, even The Nation, had harsh words about the journal’s decision and decision-makers. This Guernica thing was truly “a thing,”  And/but Guernica is not alone. Because it was such a well-known and respected publication, the incident received a great deal of attention and scrutiny. But there are many more examples of the recent rise of antisemitism playing out in literary journals and other sectors of the literary world. Here’s an article in the British Telegraph whose title speaks volumes: “Half of British Publishers ‘Won’t Take Books by Jewish Authors.'”

One last: At AWP, a HUGE literary conference I attended in February, two people (one Jewish, one not) told me that I was “brave” for wearing a Star of David–at a writers conference! On a recent cruise, two lovely college women ran up to me when they saw my Star: “We’re Jewish too!” they shared. It was like a reunion of long-lost friends–a small island of safety we found in each other.

Neither of these occurrences would have happened prior to Oct 7.


Cooler and Kinder Heads and Hearts


I am much more careful about where I submit my work these days. Before I press send, I check out the journal’s website and guidelines and look for statements they may have made regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict. If their message feels like it’s crossing a (very thin) line into antisemitism, I stay away.

(I also crosscheck with the list compiled by Erika Dreifus, who has been “tracking resolutions and statements by literary organizations that are compromised by both distortions of the historical record and ongoing demonization of the state of Israel, Israelis, and/or the vast majority of Diaspora Jews who are not anti-Zionists”)

There still are many with cooler and kinder heads and hearts, who think there is room for all voices–as long as they aren’t espousing hate. Since Oct 7, I have submitted writing with Jewish content to several journals and have already received two acceptances for these types of pieces. And, very special to me,  The Rumpus, on April 1, published an interview I did with Jessica Jacobs about her wonderful new collection of poems UNALONE, her reflections on the book of Genesis,

I am grateful. Very.

So … will I add my voice to the noise on social media? Maybe. I can and am no longer as afraid. But maybe my energies and my strong desire to take a stand against hatred will be better served by other types of writing. I’ll keep you posted!


As always, I’d LOVE to hear from you. Please leave a comment or send me an email.


And if you’d like to learn more about Sherry Danner and her offerings, here’s the link to Nurtured Light.


See you soon!





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For one-on-one support in uncovering your voice on the page, please consider working with me! I’d love to join you on your journey!


  1. Greta Holt on April 10, 2024 at 2:44 pm

    You write so well.
    Speak up, and ignore the complainers. They don’t ‘do’ life, we do.
    The situations are so complex that they cannot be solved by one person or one group’s opinions.
    We read our histories, we read today’s news, we try.
    Our church is talking with Jews and Palestinians, not to solve history but to decide what we can do to bring kindness and peace to those in Cincinnati.
    I for one, blame the Roman Empire for the whole damn mess.
    Love you, Diane!

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 10, 2024 at 2:52 pm

      Greta, thank you for your message! I know you and your church have a long, long history of working for peace and offering so many kindnesses. Best of luck with your work in Cincinnati! Love you too!

  2. Sherry Danner on April 9, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Diane, thank you. You have modeled something so powerful for us all here. Your inner battle is so relatable! It takes tremendous courage to unmask the fear that hides behind confusion. And we minimize the cost to our own psyche for remaining silent when we are disturbed: “I’ve been silent. And that was a source of tremendous heartache for me.” And thank you also for participating in Joy Journaling where we are seeking wisdom from within. Your story so beautifully illustrates what happens when we do.

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 9, 2024 at 5:31 pm

      Oh, thank. you, Sherry! I would not have come to a place of peace with any of this had I not be at your Joy Journaling session. I have only attended two so far and I have gained more than I ever could have imagined. I am so grateful to you!

  3. Nancy D’Agostino on April 9, 2024 at 1:06 pm

    “But when we let fear hijack our decisions, we are often disappointed with the outcome.” That really resonated with me. Such a wise take.
    Thank you for sharing your fears and the process you went through uncovering them. I have no doubt your voice will be heard through your writing.

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 9, 2024 at 1:08 pm

      Oh, Nancy! Fear IS a beast, right? Thank you, dear friend, for your support, always!

  4. Joan Leegant on April 9, 2024 at 2:06 am

    A wonderful piece, Diane. Thoughtful and sincere–and so true.

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 9, 2024 at 3:51 am

      Thank you so much, Joan. I appreciate your support!

  5. Dorothy Buscemi on April 9, 2024 at 1:25 am

    How sad it is, when we are sometimes frozen due to fears. What is the phenomenon happening among all Americans in recent time, when freedom is less important than our social media life. Diane you are a proud Jewish woman and a brilliant one at that. Please speak out against the deplorable antisemitism raging across college campuses and spilling out unto our streets, growing like a cancer. I’m not too surprised, unfortunately radicalism has taken root, and like a slippery slope it will come for all communities. I am not Jewish, I am Christian and conservative I’m appalled over the Oct. 7 massacre. The conscious decision of Senator Schumer, members of Congress and many media hosts that systematically put Israel in the wrong is unconscionable to me. I say step up or step aside! Doing the right thing, speaking freely expressing truth is our God Given Right.

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 9, 2024 at 3:50 am

      Dorothy, thank you for your strong words of support! Your courage in speaking truth has been an inspiration for me on so many levels for so many years. You have helped me set important boundaries in the past. I appreciate your encouragement and am grateful.

      • Dorothy Buscemi on April 9, 2024 at 2:22 pm

        Gratitude is a tremendous blessing and opportunity for our shared journey Diane. It humbly reminds us of our ability to bounce back, be resilient and strong enough to face our own egos. I so appreciate our shared experience and friendship also, even though we shared very difficult things, we grew through it. For that I’m grateful ☺️

        • Diane Gottlieb on April 9, 2024 at 5:33 pm

          I am incredibly grateful for you, your wisdom (and impressive boundary-setting skills), and your friendship. I would not have made it through some of those hard times without you.

  6. Marian Adams on April 8, 2024 at 11:01 pm

    Let ‘er Rip Diane …Your Voice is Loving and Just and Strong Against Oppression and Violence against Peaceful Loving People of Faith ..XO, Marian

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 9, 2024 at 3:47 am

      Thank you, dear Marian, for your support! It means so much to me! XOXO

  7. Alison McGhee on April 8, 2024 at 7:16 pm

    This is so honest and beautiful and true, Diane. I so appreciate the process you went through to understand your own reactions – this feels so useful to anyone (like me) who doesn’t always know why my inner and outer aren’t communicating, or where my instinctive feelings are coming from. Thank you for being you. XOXOXO

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 7:27 pm

      Thank you, dear dear Alison, for being you! The inner and the outer–sometimes, they just don’t want to hear each other, right? XOXOXO

  8. Eileen Vorbach Collins on April 8, 2024 at 4:31 pm

    Diane, Thank you for this piece, so important in these horrifying times. I too have been cautious about speaking out for many reasons, not the least of which is fear. Also, I don’t want to come off sounding like the former guy with his “good people on both siides” bullshit, yet my heart hurts for all of humanity. (I exclude rapists and terrorists from the category of humanity).

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 5:37 pm

      I hear you on all of this, Eileen! Thanks for sharing where you are. Fear is a beast, and the culture right now is not a forgiving one, so I can understand the hesitation about coming off in a way that you don’t intend.

  9. Lynne Golodner on April 8, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Diane! And for bravely showing your feelings and process. These are very scary times. I am proud to wear my Jewish stars and have lost friends since October 7th and to that I say, “Good riddance!” These times are showing me with great clarity who I want in my life and who I don’t. Love to you!!

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 5:35 pm

      Thank you, Lynne! I know you have spoken up loudly and proudly! You are an inspiration to me!!

    • Dorothy Buscemi on April 9, 2024 at 1:53 am

      Good 😊 for you, courage is contagious. Modeling free thought allows us a chance to open dialogue and perhaps change minds. We can’t let fear of condemnation keep us from personal perspective.

  10. Fran Turner on April 8, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    Diane, thank you for this piece, for the courage it took uncovering, looking into, and writing about your fear.
    May wisdom and compassion prevail!
    ~ Fran Turner

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you so much, Fran! And HUGE yes to “May wisdom and compassion prevail!”

  11. Charlotte Hamrick on April 8, 2024 at 1:43 pm

    Diane, I am sickened by the rise of antisemitism in our country and the world. I just don’t understand it. Also, like you, I am pissed that women’s groups are so silent about the atrocities on women especially. What cowards. I’m also appalled by the lit community and hope our mutual friends there will start speaking out. I’m glad you’ve achieved some clarity on a difficult situation for you. You have my full support!!

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you so much, Charlotte! I feel your support and it feels wonderful. Your voice around these issues has truly inspired me and has helped given me the courage to speak up and out myself. I am grateful.

  12. Rebecca Tiger on April 8, 2024 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for writing this. You’ve captured the confused that many of us have, especially when we can be of more than one mind about October 7th and its aftermath. When a story of mine was recently accepted in a Jewish literary magazine, I had more than a moment of worry – is someone going to judge me? Will this affect my creative writing prospects? But, there is audience and place for all of us. Something about the Guernica debacle that has gotten less attention is that one writer who Guernica published lamented that her work was now tainted by association with the piece that was pulled. Others expressed condolences to her, as if her proximity to this piece was constituted some sort of trauma and violation. I couldn’t help but think of the association of Jews with “dirt” and “pollution” and wondered how others didn’t see this alarming connection. Thank you for writing this, for getting me thinking and for championing other writers the way you do.

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 1:34 pm

      Rebecca, I’m so glad this resonated. Thanks also for reminding me about the whole “tainted by association” thing. There is so much to be alarmed about. I am grateful for your voice. “There is audience and place for all of us.”

  13. Jeanne Stafford on April 8, 2024 at 12:14 pm

    “The actual choice feels less important now. My freedom comes with the knowledge that I certainly can speak out and don’t have to!” THAT was so powerful for me, Diane. As I read your journey of deep understanding of what’s important to you and how you will care for it, I can hear how you will devote yourself to it. You took the time to see a pain in a new way uncovering a solution that will release more beautiful words from you. Thank you. You always take me to something new when I read about who you listen to. Today you took me to something new as I read about how you listened to YOU.

    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 12:23 pm

      Oh, Jeanne! Thank you, thank you, for your beautiful words! I know you know this was not easy for me. The important things usually aren’t. Here’s to bringing each other to new places!

  14. Debbie Russell on April 8, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Wonderful piece, Diane. I’m so proud of you for taking the time to work through that and then share it with us. These are very challenging times, for sure and social media does little to help the situation.

    Wishing you continued peace and strength!


    • Diane Gottlieb on April 8, 2024 at 11:56 am

      Oh, Debbie! Thanks so much, friend, for your support. It means the world to me!

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