Tuesday, December 19, 2017
But from the darkest moments in our history, comes our greatest light.
More than 2000 years ago, the Land of Israel was under Syrian-Greek occupation and Antiochus, the Greek ruler of the time had declared war against the Jewish people.
He wanted to destroy the individuality of the Jews, who stubbornly refused to give up their ways and traditions by outlawing all Jewish religious traditions and rites. He replaced the righteous High Priest in the Jewish Temple with a Hellenistic Jew, which was basically an assimilated Jew who had rejected his own culture to embrace the Greek one. He then enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jewish people by making it illegal to keep the Sabbath, perform circumcisions and keep kosher dietary laws. His servants even tried to force a 90 year old man, Rabbi Eliezer, to eat pork and when he refused, was put to death.
Thousands of others were murdered when they too refused to abandon their traditions.
Antiochus’s servants went from town to town, village to village, forcing the Jewish population to worship their false idols.
There was only one area that remained a refuge, an area in the Judean hills – the same area today which the world likes to call ‘occupied palestinian territory.’
Here, the Jews refused to bow down to the false gods of Antiochus – and so they revolted, started by a man called Mattityahu and then continued by his son, Judah Maccabee.
The line had been drawn, and loyal and courageous Jews fell in behind the Maccabees, determined to keep their way of life alive.
Antiochus was enraged and sent in his generals with tens of thousands of men to wipe out Judah and his Maccabean followers and although the Maccabees were vastly outnumbered, they succeeded in defeating the army, armed by a strong spirit of faith and belief.
But despite this unbelievable military victory, this wasn’t even the miracle of Hanukkah.
The miracle occurred later when they managed to liberate the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and after clearing out all the idols, and cleaning up all the destruction and the vandalism that had occurred, they wanted to rededicate the Temple, but the golden menorah had already been stolen by the Syrians, so they built a cheap metal one instead.
With a small vial of oil that they had discovered, enough for just one day, they lit the menorah.
Except instead of flickering out in the morning light, it continued to burn for a further seven more, until more oil could be produced.
The darkness of the time has been vanquished and replaced by the simple light of a flickering flame that wouldn’t die.
So too are the Jewish people, who somehow fight against a world in which many want to snuff out their light as well, want to vanquish them from their land, want to remove them from history and somehow pretend they didn’t exist.
Just like that flickering flame, they too refuse to die, refuse to lie down, refuse to be defeated and refuse to succumb to harsh dictators who want to destroy them.
We fight back not simply to survive, but to live as Jews in our own land, carrying out our own traditions and our own ways of life, allowing our one small light to illuminate the world.
The story of Hanukkah may have taken place over 2000 years ago, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
It was only the beginning.
Because the same fight led by a bunch of crazy zealots in the Judean hills is happening today. And every time we stand up for our way of life, for our land, for our people and for our freedom, the spirit of the Maccabees lives on in all of us.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Because the problems of the Middle East is not caused by Israel, but by the multitude of fascist Arab countries around it.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Sunday, July 9, 2017
4000 years ago, one man changed the world. He looked around him and saw a world he could not believe in. He saw a world he could not relate to. He saw a world he didn't believe in. And rather than be a part of it, he decided to stand separately. He decided to stand independently. He decided to stand alone. He believed in a single God, rather than the multitude of idols around him.
That man was Abraham and his covenant with God made him the first Jew - our original forefather. And in the same covenant, God promised him a land of milk and honey, a land in which the Jews would be able to call their own. It was a belief so strong that it caused Abraham to leave everything he ever knew and his whole life behind him and journey to a strange new land, a strange new world, and a whole new begining.
He was a simple man with a simple belief - a belief that changed everything we thought we knew.
And on that journey he began - a journey we still carry on today - he met many people and travelled to many places and had many adventures. But most importantly, he became the father of a people that still exist today. A people who still live in that same land promised 4000 years ago. A people who still believe in that promise, eventhough the world doesn't.
But Abraham was a man of the future, not the past. So he decided to purchase a cave and the surrounding land from a guy called Ephron. He paid him 400 shekels of silver in a deal, complete with witnesses and documentation. And with this purchase, he established that Hebron would belong to the Jewish people forever and ever. It was a place that he and his family would be buried, to rest forever on Jewish land.
Yesterday, UNESCO, who is supposed to safeguard the cultural and historical heritage of people, decided to declare that deal and void. They decided to erase history. They decided, rather than safeguard the cultural integrity of the Jewish people, to destroy it instead.
Or attempt to.
Because a collection of countries, many which don't even give their citizens basic human rights, don't get to decide on this. They have no authority. They have no right. They have no integrity. And they have no shame.
The UNESCO vote is not about culture or history or freedom or democracy or safeguarding anything. It has nothing to do with Hebron or Jerusalem. It has only to do with destroying the Jewish people, their rights, their history, their culture, their link to a land promised to them 4000 years earlier.
But history is an old beast, and it remembers things, long after those who have passed through it have faded away.
The dream of UNESCO, the Arab world and all those others to destroy the Jewish people will fail.
For the covenant made by Abraham is eternal and still very much intact.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Monday, June 5, 2017
There are those who say the war was a Pyrrhic victory – a battle that Israel won, but would ultimately lead to her having more losses in the long run, due to the increased administration of territories in which a largely hostile Palestinian population exists.
It’s true that Israel faces many challenges today, including the almost insurmountable one of trying to make peace with a Palestinian leadership whose goal has never been about peace, but rather the destruction of the Jewish State.
But when we think back to that time leading up to the Six Day War, we can never forget that the victory was anything, but empty.
Israel stood alone in the world, besieged by Arab States who had openly stated their intention of wiping out the country, including the annihilation of its citizens. There may have been some demonstrations of support in Europe, and the American government was ‘sympathetic’ to their plight, but no country was prepared to lift their finger to help her. The Egyptians blockaded the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, which was considered an act of war, yet America refused to respond to it, despite the assurances it gave Israel in 1956. The Egyptian leader Gamal Nasser had demanded the UN leave the Sinai, to which the UN complied meekly, proving how ineffective they were as a ‘peace’ keeping force.
Israel was abandoned, surrounded by bloodthirsty Arab regimes intent on committing another Holocaust on the Jewish people a mere 22 years after the previous one had been carried out. And now, just as then in those dark years of the 1930s and 1940s, the world was silent to the cries of Jewish anguish. No one was going to save the Jews this time, just as they didn’t save them last time.
Her people were fearful. The country was isolated. The army was outnumbered.
But unlike before, Israel was not a powerless people anymore. Backed by a population who knew what would happen if they lost, and buoyed by the support of so many Jews who flocked to the country to help, and backed by the solidarity of a people who had vowed ‘Never Again,’ they struck back and carried out one of the greatest military victories in history.
However, it was not a victory that could be classified in military terms alone, for it was a victory of life itself. It was the victory of the enduring Jewish spirit to fight for life, no matter how bleak the prospects are and no matter how overwhelming the odds may be. It was an announcement not only to her own people, but to the world at large. The Jews were back in their ancestral land, and the era of countries and regimes being able to do with them as they please, had ended.
With the liberation of Jerusalem, it had also ended the reign of ethnic cleansing the Jordanians had carried out in the Jewish Quarter, where they had destroyed ancient Jewish synagogues, expelled the Jewish population, desecrated the graveyards, and denied access to the Western Wall in violation of the Armistice Accords of 1949 – a violation that the world also ignored.
Looking back, there is some thought that because of the war of 1967, Israel inherited more problems, problems that haunt it to this day as it strives to make peace with the Palestinians. There is no doubt that Israel faces enormous challenges today; however we can never and should never lose sight of the alternative of those six fateful days in June for the alternative could well have been catastrophic.
Israel fought a just war against Arab regimes intent on their annihilation. Their victory led not just to their continued survival, but to their ability to live and breathe in their own country. Their victory led to the freedom to be able to walk and prayer in their ancient capital – a freedom previously illegally denied to them.
We should never underestimate the power of what that means.