The UN’s Effort to Isolate Israel-Good or Bad?

As the curtain of this Hebrew year 5771 comes down and 5772 begins,Jews have the gift and responsibility to demonstrate to the world – as alight unto nations – our singular uniqueness in living up to the highest moral and ethical standards.

And in so doing, in our isolation we become one – with each other andwith God.

Isolation is the threatening word used today, both by Israel’s foes andfriends, to emphasize the need for concessions. Please Israel, so manyare imploring, if you don’t compromise and give the Arabs what theydemand, you risk becoming isolated and left all alone in this world.

Should we be frightened by isolation? And how should we react to thecurrent situation, as Israel is, once again, put on trial?

My gut reaction is to say that we should not even respond to this latestonslaught. After all, Israel – the land and the nation – have been isolatedthroughout all of history. And we’ve turned out just fine!

From the beginning of time we are, and have always been, a singlesheep surrounded by seventy wolves. Isolated and alone.

As tempting as it may be to ignore the UN confrontation, Israel and theJewish people have responsibility to do more than that. We cannot besatisfied by doing nothing, or by playing defense. We must mount anoffense by being a light unto the nations

We have much to give to the world, and one of the most powerful things we can give is a response to this latest threat of isolation.

What is even more remarkable is that this challenge to Israel is takingplace at the threshold of the New Year. Isn’t it ironic that as we enterthe High Holiday season, which demonstrates the great contributionsof Israel to civilization, nations of the world are gathering to condemn us!

The Palestinians could not have chosen a better month than this one to put the Jews on trial.

In the Book of Numbers, this was uttered by none other than one of Israel’s great enemies – the evil prophet Balaam who was commissioned by Balak, King of Moab, to curse the Jews.

But instead of a curse, what came out of Balaam’s lips was a blessing –the blessed words that God placed into his mouth: “It is a people thatdwells alone, and is not reckoned among the nations.”

Of all people in the world it was our arch enemy, Balaam, that revealed the great secret strength of Israel: It is an isolated people, who dwellalone. Moses would later bless Israel using a similar expression: “[May]Israel dwelled safely and alone.”

Is Israel isolated and alone? Absolutely.

When the entire world and all its nations were pursuing their own needs and interests, Israel alone embraced the mission to reveal divine unityin this material universe, by living up to the highest standards of morality, justice and compassion.

When the nations of the world were still in the throes of paganism and cannibalism, Israel alone was standing at Sinai committing to a life of virtue and charity, a life driven by the respect for each person’s sacredrights – a principle that was ahead of its time by over 3,000 years!

You bet we were alone. It would take three millennia plus for world leaders to be the first countries  that would embrace the concept that all people are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights!

Is Israel isolated and alone? Absolutely.

And the world should thank us for it! It is due to Israel’s aloneness, its singular commitment to God, that we have the values that we cherish today.

We Jews have no need to apologize to anyone. We introduced civilization to the world.

Rosh Hashana and this holiday season tells us that our identity is to bea “light unto nations” – to introduce light even in the darkest places.