Taking the Knee  

Where do we Jews stand?

by
Rabbi Hackenbroch

Two grade 9 students at a Jewish school in Cape Town “took a Knee “to show solidarity with Palestinians while the Hatikva was being sung during an award ceremony and were subsequently disciplined by their school for their protest.

 

Taking a knee meaning to kneel on one knee during the playing of a national anthem you may recall was adopted in 2016 by NFL Football star Colin Kaepernick in protest against Police brutality against African Americans. It was hugely controversial and divided a nation some feeling it was a legitimate form of protest whereas others saw it being disrespectful to the national anthem and armed forces 

 

George Orwell famously said that if liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear. So where do us Jews stand when it comes to taking the knee and exercising one’s right to protest against perceived injustices by the State of Israel. In fact we

may wonder what our position is in general when it comes to publicly criticising Israel or other Jews for that matter.

One of the most thrilling aspects of being Jewish is the fact in contrast to other beliefs that choose to stifle debate, we celebrate disagreement and different perspectives being expressed which in turn leads to the emergence of truth. In fact debate is to be found throughout the development of the oral Torah to this day and of course very prevalent in the State of Israel.  Golda Meir said Jewish people were a nation that refused to take yes as an answer.

But to paraphrase King Solomon everything has its time and place.  We have to recognise that be it as a country or as a people there comes a point where difficult decisions have to be made or else you remain in a state of paralysis. I believe that whilst we are free behind closed doors amongst our own to disagree I think we have to be very weary of doing so publicly. We have enough critics and enemies we need to stand united and in particular show our support for our leadership and Israel.

As a nation and country we face a daily onslaught of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in the media. No one is suggesting that we are perfect, we know we are on all levels a work in progress yet we can hold our heads high and be immensely proud of our accomplishments and contribution to the family of nations. We are a light to the nations our work is ensuring we make that light burn a little brighter year in year out 

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