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David and Goliath Reconsidered

A Torah scroll. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In our ever-expanding world of technology and innovation, a relentless battle persists between the Goliaths of the tech industry and their David-like rivals, each determined to carve out their niche in this lucrative marketplace. The competition is always cutthroat and ruthless, with both sides intent on outsmarting one another to gain an advantage.

But here’s the crux: while the Goliaths aim to obliterate the Davids, the Davids seek merely to survive and flourish. This is why Goliaths often insist that they are, in fact, Davids, even when the evidence suggests they are poised to obliterate their challengers and cast them into oblivion.

In the ancient biblical story from the Book of Samuel (1 Sam. 17), the Philistine giant Goliath’s death at the hands of David did not rid Israel of the Philistines. Contrary to being weakened, the Philistines remained a formidable force in the region.

Goliath’s fall did not spell the end for the Philistines; they continued to be a significant enemy to the Israelites for centuries. David’s victory was a moment of triumph, but the Philistine threat lingered, a persistent barbed thorn in Israel’s side.

So it is in the technology world. Google, with its vast empire of data and digital dominance, stands out as the quintessential Goliath. Yet, in its confrontations with various technological Davids, Google portrays itself as the disadvantaged David, vulnerable to the hostilities of competitors.

To some extent, they are right, not because their dominance is at risk, but because their refusal to allow smaller operators room to maneuver generates tactical disadvantages for Google. After all, if Google is aiming to destroy you, what have you got to lose by going all in?

British-Canadian journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell, once noted that “Giants are not what we think they are – the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”

A prime example of this dynamic is the prolonged conflict between Google and Qwant, a privacy-focused European search engine that champions user privacy. This battle, seemingly lopsided, highlights the paradox. Qwant is perceived as ethical and agile, and is unburdened by bureaucratic layers, which initially positioned Google, the search engine behemoth, as the underdog in the fight, struggling against a tide of privacy-conscious Davids. However, this perception was a carefully crafted illusion by Google’s PR machinery.

And this dynamic of the perceived underdog versus the ostensible giant is not exclusive to the digital realm. A similar paradox is evident on the global stage, most notably in the enduring conflict between Israel and those who wish to see it destroyed.

Israel is a true David – a tiny country smaller than the state of New Jersey, founded in 1948 by indigenous Jews whose one common denominator was abject poverty, along with traumatized Holocaust survivors and immigrant refugees who had been summarily expelled from countries in the Middles East and North Africa.

Since its inception Israel has been surrounded and hounded by relentless adversaries, both local and international, with the vast majority of countries taking endless glee in condemning Israel at the United Nations, making Israel the most vilified country at the UN – exponentially more than North Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria, China, and Myanmar, whose human rights abuses are all off the charts.

And yet, Israel is invariably cast in the role of Goliath by its enemies – seemingly because it is determined to win the battles against those who proudly proclaim that they wish to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth. And while David may win the day, the evil Goliath Israel-haters remain in place, ready to pounce anytime they sense a vulnerability or opening.

Just as Google’s dominance in the tech sphere belies the vulnerabilities it claims in facing upstarts like Qwant, so too does the depiction of Israel as an overpowering Goliath mask its inherent David-like challenges. Despite its technological advancements and military capabilities, Israel remains susceptible to being overrun and overwhelmed, which is why Israel is constantly seeking peace and security in a region that is marked by volatility and hostility.

Israel’s achievements in innovation, defense, and democracy are evidence of its resilience and determination to thrive against the odds, much like the smaller tech companies striving for a foothold in markets dominated by giants. But in the end, Israel is a plucky survivor living on the edge – a David with a meager sling rather than a mighty Goliath with every possible advantage.

The international narrative sympathizes with the Palestinian cause, framing it as a struggle of a persecuted David pitted against the Israeli Goliath. But truthfully, this oversimplified narrative ignores the complex reality of widespread support for the Palestinian position from numerous countries and international bodies, effectively reversing the roles in the battle of hearts and minds. The situation is further complicated by the tactics employed, where the perception of power does not always align with the reality of geopolitical dynamics and the historical context of the region.

In the final analysis, whether it is in the sphere of technology or international relations, the true nature of Davids and Goliaths is often obscured by narratives that oversimplify complex subtleties. The story of Israel is one of defying the odds, leveraging ingenuity and resilience in the face of challenges that belie size or capabilities.

During the darkest days of World War II, Winston Churchill, the indomitable British Prime Minister, traveled to Ottawa, Canada, to address its Parliament. It was December 30, 1941, a time when the outcome of the war was far from certain, and Britain stood defiantly against the Axis powers, almost entirely alone.

In his speech, Churchill referenced a dismissive remark made by French generals in the early days of the war, suggesting that Britain would have its “neck wrung like a chicken” within three weeks of fighting alone against the Nazis.

Churchill’s response to this prediction was both defiant and humorous – smiling, he told the Canadian lawmakers: “Some chicken! Some neck!” His retort not only mocked the underestimation of Britain’s resilience, but also rallied diminished spirits by highlighting Britain’s unexpected strength and tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds. Britain may be a David, but no Goliath was going to take them down.

The Haftarah for Parashat Ki Tisa focuses on the Jewish prophet Elijah, and his determination to disprove the power and existence of the false gods, Baal and Asherah. It is a David and Goliath story. Elijah faces down the overwhelming might of the prophets of Baal, who were backed by the formidable King Ahab.

This narrative, set on the dramatic stage of Mount Carmel, sees Elijah undeterred by the numerical and political dominance of his adversaries, challenging them to a divine test. And despite the odds stacked against him, Elijah’s unwavering belief in the power of God becomes his sling and stone against the Goliath-like force of his opponents. The subsequent miraculous fire from heaven, consuming Elijah’s water-drenched offering, unequivocally demonstrates the supremacy of God, echoing the triumph of faith and divine justice over might and numbers.

So too Israel, in its ongoing struggle amidst the international currents favoring the Palestinian cause, reflects the enduring spirit of Elijah. Facing a world that unquestioningly supports the Palestinians, even after the horrors of October 7th and the overwhelming evidence of the monstrous use of tunnels and human shields by Hamas, Israel’s situation mirrors Elijah’s solitary stand against the prophets of Baal – relying not on might, but on the justice of its cause and a profound faith in divine guidance.

Israel’s journey, much like Elijah’s, highlights the strength found in conviction and the pursuit of peace, and the profound impact of standing for what is just and true, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable opposition.

The author is a rabbi in Beverly Hills, California.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

The post ‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’ first appeared on

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