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Choose to Shine

Professors at Ivy League universities and colleges expressed support for students who praised Hamas’ “military action” of October 7, 2023, in Israel. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of New York, London, Paris, and Milan demanding a “ceasefire” immediately after the unprovoked attack made by Hamas which targeted civilians, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Common Article 3 requires the humane treatment of civilians. Article 51 of Protocol I protects civilian populations from attack. See also Crimes against Humanity in articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. I have not heard a single indication that the ICC will be investigating these war crimes.

Russia, China, and other major countries, plus of course, Iran, condemn Israel for its efforts to root out Hamas and destroy its infrastructure. Millions accuse Israel of “genocide” even as the populations in Gaza and The West Bank continue to multiply exponentially. Even a cursory yet honest historical review of the area in dispute will reveal such claims are ludicrous. Jews have maintained a presence in Israel for thousands of years, even when the majority were driven out by empire after empire, kingdom after kingdom.

Yet it can feel like the majority of the world at large is against us, save some notably sane allies. If one listens carefully to the allegations made by the violently angry mobs, the only place one will find these atrocities happening is in the list of inhuman acts committed by Hamas. Instead, they flip the narrative and accuse the “Zionist State” of all these supposed grievances against the “poor, innocent Gazans”. It is ludicrous, outrageous, and disingenuous. Yet the liberal media outlets of the entire world rebroadcast these baseless claims without any investigation. They parrot the falsehoods as if they were absolute facts. Liberal professors who have the security of tenure then quote the established media and poison young minds with these fabrications.

What is really happening here? What does it all mean? Why does such a tiny country bear the world’s biggest target on its back? What can we possibly do as Jewish people to combat the lies, the hate, and the animosity directed at our people and our nation? What is our responsibility, and what is within our control?

We first must realize that this is not a fight about property. This is a battle as old as time. It is nothing less than the never-ending battle between good and evil, of right against wrong. Why else does each side fight with such mighty intensity? In one case, a college professor named Loay Alnaji, who is a pro-Hamas advocate in LA, assaulted an elderly Jew, causing his death during a protest. One would think that an academic would be above committing physical violence and would engage in dialogue. But this cause is deeply personal.

If morality is relative, then anyone can define good or evil and do whatever they wish. In some cultures, murder is acceptable, and can even be praiseworthy. The lines can blur and shift when right versus wrong is arbitrary. The only way to establish universal, unwavering distinctions is when the source of morality is Omniscient.

In the Torah Hashem laid out very clear laws and a code of morality for man to obey and observe. He even rewards us for studying it. Our obligation to plumb the depths of its wisdom encompasses every hour of every day. Of course, we can eat, sleep, and live our lives, yet the goal of this world is to give His Torah primacy in our lives. Torah scholars study night and day to become experts in ethics, fairness, and in the Torah way of thinking.

While we may feel helpless against the tide of hatred leveled against us, our only effective weapon is to allow the Torah to permeate every facet of our lives. When we can do that, Hashem will take care of the rest and ensure we are victorious. That is the message of Chanukah. No matter how much darkness surrounds us, we can invest in chessed, unity, goodness, and Torah study to be the tiny light that dissipates much darkness.

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