web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

The Mishna in Avos tells us, “In a place where there is no man, strive to be a man” (2:6). Daniel, barely more than a boy, stood up and was a man in a place where no one else would stand up. I am proud of him, not only because of my position as international director of NCSY but as a member of the Jewish people.

Abraham stood up for God because he knew it was true. Wendell Phillips stood up for freedom because he knew it was just. History has proven them correct. Likewise, young Daniel stood up for Israel because it was the right thing to do. Hopefully it won’t take as long for his position to be vindicated.

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
Chaye Zisel Braun
Funeral for Chaye Zisel Braun Underway [photos]
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty


n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

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: