Avi Benlolo
Avi Abraham Benlolo, Founder & Chairman, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI)

Lion of Judah is Not A Pin – It’s A Call to Action


(Excerpt from a speech I gave this week)

There are people to whom I often refer in my writings as “Lions of Judah”.  These are people who are enveloped by a special aura. They stand up when it counts, speak out when necessary, and show the world that there is nothing to fear – but fear itself.

The Lion of Judah is a Jewish national and cultural symbol regarded as part of the tribe of Judah and found in the blessing by Jacob to his son Judah in the Book of Genesis. For me, it has become far more symbolic. It is how I have chosen to identify courage in the face of absolute evil.

For 2,000 years we were oppressed, subjugated, hated, and murdered. We have had to walk the streets with our head bowed to the ground, never ever having eye-contact with the majority population. We never raised a fuss when we were made to pay an extra tax, live in ghettos, and forced to wear the yellow Stars of David. We were then sent to the gas chambers, because we didn’t sufficiently fight.

What we need more of today are Lions of Judah. Russia’s assault on Ukraine is sending shockwaves around the world. We speak out on the dangers of declining democracies. Autocracies such as Russia, China, Iran, and Syria are growing bolder, while the free world is growing weaker.
If you listened carefully to Biden’s words at the State of the Union, he essentially said that Russia could have Ukraine in exchange for peace with NATO allied countries.
The echoes of the Munich Agreement of 1938 are in full display. In response to Germany’s undeclared war on Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), the United States along with the United Kingdom, France and Italy foolishly appeased Nazi Germany by allowing the annexation of Czech borderland territories in exchange for peace.
Adolph Hitler must have laughed at the West’s naivete as he announced this was his last territorial claim in Europe. Right. We all know what happens when you fail to stand up to a bully. Soon after, France itself was occupied by the Nazis while Italy’s Mussolini aligned with the Nazis.
Kyiv, in other words, is Masada. In 73 C.E. a Jewish tribe fled the Romans to make a last stand on an ancient mountain fortress in the Judean Dessert, adjacent to the Dead Sea. Like the Ukrainians, they were defending their freedom and way of life. The tribe resisted and fought for months, as the Romans encircled and laid siege to the mountain fortress. No one came to their rescue.
If Ukraine must stand alone against tyrants, will the U.S. come to Israel’s defence should Iran attack? Clearly, given America’s acquiescence to nearly every Iranian demand during the Vienna nuclear talks, Israel’s interests are not necessarily in the Biden administration’s best interest.

This is bad news not only for Jewish communities, but for anyone who believes in freedom, democracy, and human rights. Democracies are preservers of rights and freedoms.  If you want to practise your religion freely, you probably prefer to live in a democracy.

This week, I expressed pride in the Jewish Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  Like a Lion of Judah, he has arisen to the occasion not only in defence of his country, but in defiance of darkness.  When asked by the United States if he wants to escape Kyiv, he responded: “I don’t need a ride. I need weapons.”

The Zalenskys of this world are showing the rest of the world a path toward courage. If he can stare down evil, so can we. We, my friends, will no longer bow our heads.  We will not tolerate Nazi salutes in our schools and against Jewish teachers.  We will not accept slander and defamation by organizations such as Amnesty International who falsely call Israel an ‘apartheid state’. And we will fight like lions against the rising tide of Antisemitism.

Never Again will we be forced to wear a Yellow Star. We shall not accept the denial and distortion of the Holocaust. Most significantly, we will stand like lions and defend the State of Israel, freedom, and democracy, armed with courage and conviction.

A Lion of Judah is not merely a pin. It is a call to action.

It is our job  to protect our future and defend our past. Social change comes from social action. No matter who we are, we must all cry for freedom. Become a Lion of Judah.

About the Author
Avi Abraham Benlolo is the Founder and Chairman of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) He has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights.
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