Hanukkah’s Celebration of Rootedness and Tradition—and Its Discontents

Hanukkah, notes Ari Lamm, seems to irk “everyone from the late Christopher Hitchens, who memorably derided it as a ‘celebration of tribal Jewish backwardness,’ to Sarah Prager, who took to the pages of the New York Times recently to explain that she won’t be teaching her kids about it.” (The latter seems to be something of a tradition, as that newspaper has published several critiques of the holiday over the past several years.) To Lamm, the Festival of Lights sticks in the craw of a certain breed of sophisticate because it is

about the rootedness of tradition against . . . cosmopolitanism. If you were a Jew at the time [of the Maccabean Revolt], you basically had two choices: you could love the beauty of your ancestral heritage and love it no matter what, or you could watch as the ruling class attempted to recreate the social order in its own universalist image—and hope that your acceptance by the powerful would somehow substitute for the loss of family, community, and tradition.

Hanukkah is a story about national and religious aspiration, about the beauty that comes from belonging somewhere in particular. And how the refusal to follow the empty pieties of the ruling class of the time kept the Jewish people together.

For it is precisely in understanding that we come from somewhere—that our past puts obligations upon us in the present—that we’ll help create an American future that is not just great, but good.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Hanukkah, New York Times, Tradition


Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain