web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Daniel In The Lions’ Den


During the 2006 war in Lebanon, I attended a rally in New York. We were standing in front of the embassy of a particular Middle Eastern nation, peacefully assembled, listening to speakers address the issue of the day. A few people had Israeli flags, maybe a homemade sign here or there. We were passionate about Israel, but we certainly did not constitute what one would call a rowdy crowd.

During the event, two women wearing the hijab (Muslim headscarf) left the embassy. I have no idea who they were or what their business was, but they looked like employees going to lunch. Without fear or hesitation, these two obviously Muslim women calmly walked through the mostly Jewish, pro-Israel crowd. A colleague of mine noted this and wondered aloud how calmly we might pass through an analogous pro-Palestinian event. I now have an answer for him: not very well.

The recent flotilla flap can be called many things: a crisis, a tragedy, a debacle, a mess. It’s not a good thing by anybody’s standards. Nobody is happy with the way things turned out, but that doesn’t mean actions weren’t necessary. But, as always, the world is holding Israel to a higher than average standard.

Not only did Israel act legally, no country on earth would have responded any differently in that situation. Yet Israel is criticized because, honestly, it dares to exist.

Wendell Phillips was a19th-century abolitionist and activist. He’s probably best known for saying that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. He also said that a person on the side of God constitutes a majority. The meaning is clear: it doesn’t matter what the world says, if a person is on the side of right, he’s right.

In his day, Phillips was something of a rabble-rouser. He was indicted in 1854 for his involvement in an attempted slave escape. Nowadays, of course, most people would agree that slavery is reprehensible and that Phillips’s actions were heroic. Even though he was in the minority, Phillips stuck to his convictions because truth and morality outrank popular opinion.

As Jews, this is our belief as well. The Torah tells us not to follow a majority to do the wrong thing (Exodus 23:2). Sadly, we’re all too used to being in the minority on the world stage. If you look in Jewish history through the ages and around the globe, you will see that it has always been this way.

This reality is inherent in the very origin of the Jews. The word “Hebrew” comes from the Patriarch Abraham, who was called “Ha’Ivri,” meaning “the one on the other side.” As the sole adherent of monotheism, it was very literally Abraham against the world. People did come around to his way of thinking, however, as the world now boasts billions of monotheists.

Abraham stuck to his convictions. He didn’t bow to the majority and now half the world is monotheistic. Another win for being right as opposed to following the crowd. But 4,000 years after Abraham, Jews still find themselves virtually alone against the world in other ways. The Gaza flotilla incident is just the most recent example.

Following the flotilla incident, there was a Los Angeles-based pro-Palestinian rally. There was one counter-protestor: a young man, a high school student, who happens to be a member of NCSY, the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union. This young man, named Daniel, was calmly walking back and forth waving an Israeli flag. He didn’t say a word, but the crowd turned on him to such an extent that he had to be surrounded by police and escorted to a safe distance. (Remember, this was supposed to be a “peace” rally.)

Nobody made Daniel go to counter-protest. The easiest thing to do would have been to stay home and ignore the rally condemning Israel for acting legally and responsibly. But that wouldn’t have been true to himself. Daniel had to stand up for what he knew to be right. And so, like his biblical namesake and forebear, he found himself in a “Lion’s Den,” surrounded by antagonists on all sides.

Daniel embodies the principle of standing up for what’s right. It would be all too easy for Israel and the Jewish people to be quiet, to acquiesce, to simply roll over and die. We could just give up, call it a day and join the majority. Israel doesn’t and Daniel wouldn’t.

About the Author: Rabbi Steven Burg is managing director of the Orthodox Union.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Daniel In The Lions’ Den”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Burg

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson, “civility” is the word on everyone’s lips. This is ironic when one considers that civility is nowhere to be found in anyone’s actions. Each partisan faction is charging the other with hatred and violence.

During the 2006 war in Lebanon, I attended a rally in New York. We were standing in front of the embassy of a particular Middle Eastern nation, peacefully assembled, listening to speakers address the issue of the day. A few people had Israeli flags, maybe a homemade sign here or there. We were passionate about Israel, but we certainly did not constitute what one would call a rowdy crowd.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/daniel-in-the-lions-den/2010/06/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: