CHANUKAH AND JEWISH HISTORY
Will We Be Maccabees Or Victims?
By Bernard J. Shapiro
The year is 70 C.E. and a young Roman legionnaire stands on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. While he watches it burn, he says to his comrades in Latin, "Judea Capta Est" (Judea is conquered). Yet like the legendary phoenix, rising from the ashes of its own destruction, Israel burst onto the world's stage 2000 years later, with the cry of a lusty infant yearning to breathe free. Five Arab armies tried to destroy that new life before it could take hold. With blood and fire, including the sacrifice of one per cent of its population (6000 of its best young people), besieged Israel secured its independence.
Just nine short years earlier, European Jewry had faced its most devastating experience, the Holocaust. In the areas under Nazi occupation, the Jewish death rate was 90%. Despite revolts in dozens of camps, and heroic resistance with the partisans of free Europe, the Jews were unorganized, unarmed and ultimately became victims. During both the Holocaust and Israel's War of Independence, the world and its leaders were indifferent, if not hostile, to the fate of the Jews.
Jews in their own land, with their G-d, have great power, much more than the sum of arms and men. During Chanukah we should recall the legacy of the Maccabees. Remember how two "Hellenized Jews," Jason and Menelaus tried to destroy Judaism and force assimilation on the Jewish population. For generations we have taught our children about the evil Antiochus and his attempt to suppress the Jews. In reality, there were traitors among our own people who led the way for Antiochus. Today in Israel, a similar situation has developed. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Yossi Beilin Shimon Peres led a left wing coalition that was blatantly hostile to everything Jewish. They planned to give away the heartland of Eretz Yisrael, promised in perpetuity to Abraham and his descendants by G-d. The educational system in Israel was being revamped to eliminate the study of Jewish sources like the bible. They cultivated hatred of all things Jewish and especially religious Jews. Units of the Israel Defense Forces are being recruited from the non-religious population for the sole purpose of suppressing and possibly destroying the religious villages of YESHA.
Barak and Peres, anxious to win favor with the Arabs, much like Jason and the Greeks, plan to give away Israel's strategic assets. Territory is not important if your new god is economics. While the Israeli government under Rabin, Peres and Barak renounced anything Jewish, including Holy Sites, the Arabs seek strength and comfort in a revived Islam. Nothing portrayed the difference better between the Arabs and the Jews than how each views his religion. Young Arab men, promised paradise, cry "ali Akbar" (G-d is Great), then sacrifice their lives to kill Jews in one great jihad. Some Jewish soldiers were uncertain about their open-fire instructions, demoralized by a government which lied to them about the advent of peace.
Let us be Maccabees again. Let the IDF go into battle with the Maccabee cry, "All who are with G-d, follow me!" With the words: "Who is like unto Thee O G-d (the acronym of which spells out he word Maccabee in Hebrew) inscribed on their flags, the G-d inspired Jewish army swept the much larger enemy from the field in a great victory. It is this victory for which we celebrate Chanukah and not just the miracle of the oil burning eight days.
There is a simple but crucial lesson for us all in the above events. If we as Jews turn our backs on our religion and our G-d, we can expect disaster. Like Judah Maccabee, angered by the treason of Jason and Menelaus, and outraged by Antiochus, we must revolt against the Israeli left.
We must let the glow of the Chanukah lights inspire us to return to our roots as a proud, strong and fearless nation.
Bernard J. Shapiro is the Executive Director of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies and the editor of The Maccabean Online and the freemanlist.