Tonight Chanukah begins. For eight nights we will light our lights, one more each night.
Ideally we light them in a window or out in a public place.
Why? To broadcast the miracles. According to our traditions, there were two: The Talmud relates the story of the miracle of the oil, which burned for eight days in the sanctuary of the Temple that had been redeemed by the Maccabees, even though there had only been enough pure oil for seven days.
But the redemption of the Temple was only achieved after years of battle. The Maccabees, fighting for the preservation of Judaism, had to take on Hellenistic forces representing pagan values that were the antithesis of Jewish values – Hellenistic forces that embraced the physical over the spiritual. But they also had to face down assimilated Jews who were prepared to incorporate Hellenistic values into their lives. Without that battle, Judaism would not have been sustained.
And so, that victory was the greater miracle – celebrated in the prayer recited for Chanukah. Al Hanisim.
“These candles we light are for the miracles and the wonders, the salvation and the wars.”
Today the messages of Chanukah speak loudly to us, if only we will stop to hear them.
Outside of Israel, the forces of assimilation are powerful. Left wing Jews embrace “progressive” values that are the antithesis of Judaism. It requires strength and determination to hold fast to Jewish values.
While here in Israel, we must hold our heads high – dedicating ourselves with strength to all that we are meant to be in this Land that is ours. Too often Zionism is being sacrificed for political expediency.
To all who are celebrating Chanukah, I wish a Chag Sameach. Enjoy family and friends. Indulge in potato latkes or sufganiyot (donuts).
But most of all, may you meditate upon the lights as you kindle them and be inspired by them.
A traditional candle lighting with Al Hanisim:
What crazy, unstable, dangerous times these are!
This week, Mansour Abbas, chairman of the Ra’am Party (United Arab List), which is part of the governing coalition, gave an interview with an Arab paper.
“We will not give up our national, religious, and human rights,” he declared, “and these are red lines that we will not cross. Ra’am is the party that most of all realizes its religious and national goals.”
What astounds me is that there are Jews here in Israel who still do not hear the warning bells in what he is saying.
There is no need for a discussion on “human rights.” Abbas is certainly accorded that in Israel. Religious rights? As a Muslim he is guaranteed freedom of religion by Israel – freedom of worship, but he is implying a great deal more.
As an Arab he has no “national rights” here. He is a citizen of the Jewish State, and is accorded civil rights as an individual not as a member of a “nation.”
Yet look what he said (emphasis added):
“The Temple Mount belongs to Muslims only. We are working in the government to make a commitment not to invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque, not to perform religious worship on it by non-Muslims as it is a Muslim-only right. I have dedicated my whole life to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and no one can criticize me on this issue.”
Mark this well, my friends. This is typical of the Muslim Arab approach: there is no compromise. They want it all.
Caroline Glick has been very clear about the danger that the Ra’am party represents: “Ra’am isn’t a free-standing party. It is a node of the Islamic Movement, which itself is a node of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
As a result of the recent coalition deal that Bennett and Lapid struck with Abbas, “the allotment of all budgetary funds to Israel’s Arab communities [is to] be done in coordination with the Ra’am-controlled Committee for the Affairs of Arab Society. This means that to all intents and purposes, Abbas and his fellow Hamas supporters in Ra’am now control the funding of Israel’s entire Arab minority (Emphasis added here and below)…
“The new budget includes a five-year, 30 billion-shekel ($9.6 billion) development plan for the Arab community. As Amit Barak, a veteran activist involved in integrating Arab Israelis into mainstream Israeli society, revealed this week, unlike its predecessor this plan has not been made public.
“…Barak said that the new situation is liable to have a profoundly adverse effect on Arab integration. Rather than the government incentivizing Arab citizens and minority communities—like the Druze and the Circassians, whose sons are included in Israel’s compulsory military service law—to embrace their Israeli identity and integrate fully into Israeli society, it will incentivize irredentism. As Barak put it, ‘The superpower that Ra’am has become in the Arab sector endangers the Arabs who are fully integrated, or are considering integrating fully into Israeli society.’”
“And indeed, on [November 10], the head of the Druze local council of Daliyat el-Carmel, Rafik Halaby, encouraged Druze to stop serving in the IDF and praised Ra’am and the Islamic Movement.
“Abbas and his colleagues don’t want Arab Israelis to embrace their Israeli identity. They intend to use their membership in the coalition to gain control over the Israeli Arab sector and transform it into a large, unified, irredentist front dedicated to dismantling Israel’s Jewish identity.”
Attempts to dismantle Israel’s Jewish identity have been in the works for a long time. There are pro-Palestinian-Arab, largely EU-funded NGOs in Israel that have insisted that sustaining Israel as a Jewish state is unfair to Israeli Arab citizens. The way to be fair is to remove the flag with its Jewish star; remove Hatikavah, which speaks of the Jewish soul, as the national anthem; remove the right of all Jews to become Israeli citizens; and draft a constitution that says Israel is the “state of all its citizens.”
But these attempts, dangerous in their own right, were always outside the government. What Abbas is doing inside the government, with a huge budget, is far, far more dangerous.
As Glick wrote:
“Whereas Hamas carries out a violent jihad against Israel, Abbas told an Arabic-language media outlet that he is leading a ‘civil jihad’ against Israel.”
Abbas knows how to handle himself, and to say the right things in Hebrew. Thus have many Israelis been misled.
But now, says Glick, “Ra’am’s nature and intentions are totally exposed. Bennett and his colleagues must draw the appropriate conclusions before it is too late.”
I most certainly concur, but so much every Israeli citizen who counts himself or herself as Zionist also draw the right conclusion and speak out forcefully.
The barrage against Jewish legitimacy in the Land takes many forms. Consider:
It had been announced that President Isaac Herzog would be lighting the first Chanukah candle this year on the menorah at the Cave of the Patriarchs (the Machpelah) in Hevron.
This did not sit well with the members of Meretz. This party, which is comprised of Jewish and Arab members, is, unfortunately, also part of the coalition. It may define itself as Zionist but, if so at all, it is on the far left of that spectrum. Thus came the Meretz statement on the president’s candle lighting, put out by three Jewish members of the faction:
“Control of Hebron and the occupied territories in particular is in sharp political dispute…
“Out of all the settlements, the settlement in Hebron at the Cave of the Patriarchs is the most outrageous.”
No, they’re wrong. What’s outrageous is their statement. Hevron is the second holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem. It was there that Avraham purchased the Cave in which he buried his wife Sarah, and in which he and subsequent patriarchs and matriarchs (with the exception of Rachel) were buried.
King David ruled there for seven years before establishing Jerusalem as his capital.
Yet again here there is no sense of sharing (in spite of the fact that both Jewish and Muslim religious services are held at the Machpelah). The Muslims and those on the left supporting them choose to conceptualize the Machpelah as exclusively Muslim, when in fact it is anything but.
The brave Jewish individuals who live in the small beleaguered community of Jewish Hevron are the ones who ensure that the Jewish right of access to the Machpelah continues. Yet Meretz has the unmitigated gall to label this community as “the most outrageous settlement.”
Hamas, it should be noted, has threatened violence if the president proceeds with his plans.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Eitan Dangot, Israel’s former Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), has reported that Hevron and its surrounding area is recognized as an ideological Hamas stronghold, and a Hamas activity hotspot.
“Hamas hasn’t budged one millimeter from its ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction, and it is implementing this gradually,” said Dangot. “Its military wing is building up force, and engages in rounds of fighting, like May’s conflict.”
In recent weeks, the Shin Bet, working with the IDF, has broken up a large-scale terror plot, which resulted in the arrest of dozens of Hamas operatives and the confiscation of quantities of weaponry.
It was “the most dangerous tactical-operational infrastructure I recall in recent years,” reported Dangot.
Just to clarify: Hamas is not only in Gaza. If it has a stronghold in Hevron, it is obviously operating in Judea and Samaria more broadly as well.
What are the chances that members of Meretz – eager to eliminate a Jewish presence from Hevron – are concerned about this?
I will leave off writing now – although there is much more to explore, including some good reports – because I must prepare to light my candles and do my own meditation. I expect that there will be some items of good news in my next posting.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.