Hanukkah Is the Ultimate Celebration of Jewish Particularism

While Judaism undoubtedly has its universalist elements, writes William Kolbrener, Hanukkah is an unabashed celebration of its particularist aspects, commemorating a national victory over an intolerant Hellenistic cosmopolitanism:

The Jewish pride of the Hasmoneans got under the skin of the Greeks, just as claims to Jewish exceptionalism gets under the skin of anti-Semites and anti-Zionists today. Of course, for the latter, the state of Israel is the most egregious and unforgivable expression of Jewish exceptionalism. In the time of Antiochus, the Syrian Greek [heirs] of Plato and Aristotle exploited their claim toward universalism—the “woke” culture of the time—as part of a program to wipe out Jewish expressions of difference: no Torah learning, no circumcision, no celebration of the new month. The Greeks sought to strike at the heart of Jewish difference.

The Greeks, like some anti-Semites today, were proud to publicize their version of enlightenment, and to tolerate the Jews, but only so long as they would give up those practices that distinguished them.

On Hanukkah, we take a lesson from the courageous Maccabees, and express Jewish singularity and difference. Moreover, on Hanukkah, we acknowledge that being chosen is not an embarrassment, but a responsibility—so we . . . advertise the miracle of the menorah, a sign of our triumph over Greek universalist attempts to eradicate us, and our commitment to being guided by a higher ideal—in every aspect of our lives. Jewish law reflects [this element of the holiday’s message through its] emphasis on “publicizing the miracle.”

Read more at Aish.com

More about: Anti-Zionism, Hanukkah, Hellenism, Judaism, Particularism

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship