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Chanukah, Today and Yesterday
By Avi Lazerson
Chanukah is the holiday of inspiration. It comes in the middle of the darkest time of year and the darkest time of our history. In the middle of the winter, when the day ends early and the candles are lit as a remembrance of that dark time of our history when a handful of courageous and brave men stood up against a world power and dominant culture. With popular support, this small group grew and fought a successful guerrilla war ousting the world powerful Greek Empire.
True, the Greek Empire, due to its strong and well-structured command hierarchy was unable to respond swiftly and efficiently to the small idealistic and locally supportive Maccabbee guerrillas. In addition they also suffered from internal division and political self-seeking leadership that ruined their mighty war machine's ability to carry out a successful war. The Jews were the men of the land; the Greeks were the foreigners who came to subdue them, yet they stumbled and fell, and finally left in disgrace.
We regained our Holy Temple in Jerusalem and lit our menorah and witnessed another miracle. This time not a debatable military victory, but an incredible upset in the normal laws of nature. Oil, which could only burn for one night, lasted for eight nights as a tribute to the zest and zeal of the Jew's idealism and self-sacrifice triumphing over that of a foreign power.
Historically, the land of Israel has seen periods of tranquility and periods of turbulence. From wars with the ancient Philistines and Cannanites, Jews have fought to live on this soil. Exiled, we have transversed the globe for two thousand years seeking a country in which we could dwell in peace only to be ousted and pillaged by pogrom and holocaust. Now we are back in our own land, yet again, we can not seem to find that illusion of peace that we so desperately desire. We have fought battles and skirmishes before the declaration of our new statehood and still, afterwards our neighbors have attacked us.
Today, however, we are at a very dark moment in our young state's history. Although we have been successful in battle against enemy armies of who have stood up to destroy us, we are weakened now by a greater danger. Castrated by the hate-festering newspapers who propagate hatred between various strains of the Israeli Jewish populous, plus the political in-fighting by self-serving political parties who seek their own personal benefit, the once victorious Israeli army has not been able to adequately protect the citizens of this country. For the first time in Israeli history, we are on the verge of abandoning Jewish brethren - settlers - who the government aided and abetted to settle in the areas of Judea and Samaria.
Now we are faced with a great challenge.
Can we come to peace with our neighbors? Can we come to peace with ourselves? Are we on the brink of another war with our Arab neighbors?
Day after day, we hear of Jews being killed. Not just soldiers, but innocent men, women and children.
Ambushed on the road to their work, school or home. They are shot at by Arab ambushers who escape in the dark to their villages where they are shielded and protected. We must deal with an Arab administration that is both ineffective and cleverly subversive. Never the less, the facts are that the situation becomes worse with each day.
The Israeli government seems powerless to stop the intrusions and murders. Losing soldiers to kidnappers, abandoning wounded soldiers, and setting soldiers in places with out proper training or protection has taken a toll on the national morale. Bombs blowing up in major cities killing and maiming innocent people and children. Snipers fire freely into both Jewish villages and Jerusalem with out let up. Ineffective and incipient retaliations to Arab attacks have only encouraged bolder advances on a helpless Jewish population. Indeed, the procrastination and trepidation that the Israel government has called restraint has encouraged additional attacks.
Are the tables turned? Have we the Jews been cast as the ineffective Greeks suffering from an over-disciplined army that lacks the spontaneous sparks of courage needed to defeat the Arabs? Have the Arabs of today become the Macaabean rebels that sneak attack the mighty armies and disappear into the local village where in they are protected?
Only a courageous leadership, unafraid of "what the gentiles will say", blessed with intelligence and foresight and who believe in the Jewish nation can stop the stupidity that got us into this mess. For as Israel continues to look towards Arafat for signs of peace, she continues to lose both people and strength. With politicians whose personal beliefs are more similar to the Greeks than to the Jews, who neither believe in the Jewish people as the rightful inheritors of the land, nor in the divine promise to the descendants of Abraham - that the land belongs to them, we may rest assured that more plunder is in our national destiny. Only with a sense of national unity forged with a belief in the national Jewish destiny and a willingness for self sacrifice will we prevail.
from the December 2000 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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