By Shmuley Boteach
Mahmoud Abbas was coming to speak at New York University where my son Mendy is an undergraduate. Mendy was outraged that Abbas – who has created a unity government with Hamas, a genocidal organization whose stated intention is the annihilation of the Jewish people and Israel – was facing no protest.
Mahmoud Abbas, who robbed the Palestinian people of democracy by refusing to face an election now for ten years, was being greeted as a hero at an American campus. The President of the Palestinian Authority who practices ethnic cleansing by declaring that in a future Palestinian state no Jews will be allowed and who regularly names public squares after terrorist murderers of children was being cheered at a liberal arts university.
I have always tried to stand up for Israel. Along with glorious America, my family, my religion, and my God, it is the great love of my life. But of late my kids have witnessed as death threats have poured in over my public defense of Israel in the recent war in Gaza.
They saw the video of a man publicly attacking me at my speech in Seoul Olympic Stadium in front of 100,000 people. They see the odious anti-Semitic hate speech I face on social media each day.
And they also saw that I did not back down. Not because I am particularly courageous – I wrestle with irrational anxiety and fears every day of my life – but because, as the Mishnah says, “In a place where there are no men, stand up and be a man, and if not now, then when?”
It’s 70 years after the Holocaust. The Jewish State is in a battle for its very survival. Surrounded by enemies on every side, they seek to delegitimize and make it impossible for the Jewish State to simply defend itself.
Will we sit by and watch it slowly succumb to the forces of genocidal hate? Or will we learn from the holocaust that we have no one to rely on us but ourselves.
And when we fight to overcome fear and risk social ostracization to stand up for Israel, our children watch, copy, and slowly stand up themselves, giving us more pride as parents than we can ever imagine.
It’s the Jewish new year. We need many qualities to see us through the coming times with so many threats surrounding us. We need hope, we need fortitude, we need vision, and we need charity.
But above all else, we need courage.
In the coming year may we must all learn to stand up straight. Our children are watching.