I was out of town for a couple of days. But wherever you are on this planet, and whatever is important and of interest, is no further away than the clicker of a television remote control, the front page of a national newspaper, the click of a mouse, or the conversation of someone who has an interest in anything beyond trivia and what’s happening with the Osbornes.
So, like everyone else who is interested in the world beyond their three foot grasp, I was awoken to the news that an Israeli owned hotel in Mombasa Kenya was blown up by Islamic terrorists identifying themselves as the Palestinian Army. As usual, there were many deaths, and many more physically wounded and mentally traumatized victims.
Then their was the nearly simultaneous hand-held missile attack on an Israeli owned charter airplane, taking off from Mombasa Airport to Tel Aviv. It seems that it was nothing more than blind luck that both missiles fired at the Boeing 757 missed their mark.
Then there was the gun attack at the voting location in Northern Israel, where members of Likud were exercising their democratic right to choose who would be their Party leader. Netanyahu or Sharon. Sharon won by a considerable margin. But plain everyday people paid with their lives to make their democratic choice known.
As usual, the media were all over these stories like flies to manure. And just as usual, the President of the United States uttered the same ABSOLUTE CONDEMNATION of the killers. And once again, as usual, the Israelis vowed to find and punish the people responsible.
And as usual, like “Old Faithful”, the editorialists spoke and wrote about the famous cycle of violence. In other words, finding some reason to lay blame at the feet of Israel, in order to explain the attack of “militants” against innocent unarmaned civilians. However, in fairness to some within the media, this time, the terrorist word was actually uttered.
I started thinking; here I was, far from home, yet, as a Jew and a Westerner, I was no less vulnerable of being attacked by Islamists, than if I was eating a smoked meat sandwich in a Jewish delicatessen in Montreal. Yet; no matter what the Palestinians and the Islamists do, it seems to me, that to too many nations within the world, with the ONLY real exceptions being Israel and the USA, the rest couldn’t care less. And that includes the vast majority of people living within Canada.
And suddenly it hit me. Jews of today, are no less vulnerable to Pogroms, Inquisitions and of being genocidal victims, then we were throughout the last two centuries, with TWO exceptions. Israel and the United States of America.
In the 1930’s, in Nazi Europe, there was no champion of the Jews. There was nowhere for Jews to run and hide. There was no nation willing to arm, and even defend the rights of Jews to defend themselves. There was only silence and meetings where people PRETENDED to care.
I asked myself this question. How would the world react if several Jewish groups, pretending to be working outside of the Israeli government, started blowing up buildings, airplanes, restaurants, schools, busses, markets and the such in Arab and Islamic cities?
What would the media of the world call the Jewish attackers: militants or terrorists? Would the world media try to find equivalence to the Jewish attacks on innocent Arab and Moslem civilians, as they presently do when Israelis are murdered?
Would the United Nations stand by as useless eunuchs, as they do now, if Arab and Moslem children were being blown apart by Jews? Or would the UN send in the troops, or sanction the use of Arab troops against the Jews, if Israel refused to reign them in?
Then I had yet another very unpleasant thought. If for whatever reason the USA ceases to stand up for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, there will be another Holocaust; faster than it takes the time to write the word. And the only thing to “delay” the outright slaughter of Israeli Jews would be the Israeli nuclear deterrent.
But; if Israel were ever to “nuke” its enemies; not only would Israel die at the hands of the Arabs and Islamists, it would die at the hands of the rest of the world as well. And so would the rest of the world’s Jews living in the Diaspora.
No nation on earth should be compelled to live with ongoing terror attacks and the constant murder of its own people, within their own country and abroad. No nation on earth has to continuously prove their right to exist and justify their right to self defense as does Israel. When will enough be enough? And when will Israelis feel safe and secure? NEVER!
More than 2,000 years ago, a band of Jewish fighters led by Yehudah Maccabee, stood up to Antiochus, the king of the Syrians, and refused to surrender their beliefs and values. And instead of bending a knee to the Gods of the Syrians, they chose to brandish swords, spears and arrows, even though their chance to win and survive against a mighty and determined army was remote at best.
The Maccabees chose war rather than subjugation, and some 2000 years ago, with nothing more than steely determination and courage, they defeated their seemingly invincible foe.
As we read the news and see the televison reports, it seems that even today, some 2000 years later, Israel is once again facing an implacable foe. And once again, the Jews of Israel are refusing to bend a knee. And once again, the hour of truth is approaching.
Tonight; Jews worldwide, will celebrate this incredible victory of the Maccabees by lighting Chanukah candles; starting with one on the first night, and then adding one more every night for eight nights, until the Menorah, (Chanukah candelabra) is fully lit.
As Jewish history has it, when the Maccabees retook the Temple from the Syrians, and when they went to rekindle the eternal flame, they had only enough oil for it to burn for one day. And instead of the light burning for just one day, it burnt for eight, giving the Jews enough time to make enough oil to keep the flame burning continuously.
More than 2000 years later, it seems that nothing much has changed. Israel and Jews are still fighting a daily battle against all odds to survive, and to live in peace. Most of the world doesn’t care enough to lift a finger to help. While much of the world still conspires to kill Israel, and once again leave the remaining Jews subject to religious discrimination and physical harm.
Even though I’m an Atheist; tonight, Anne and I will light a candle in memory of the Maccabees and their struggle to survive as an independent people. And we will continue to light candles every night for eight consecutive nights. In doing so, it is proof that after so many thousands of years of surviving against incredible odds, as a people, we are still here.
Perhaps, the bright lights of Chanukah is a lesson not just for Jews, but for everyone who will not surrender to evil. And to everyone who thinks they can not survive the worst of what they can imagine. The celebration of Chanukah, is living proof otherwise.