Happy Hanukkah to the new Maccabees

As every Jew will tell you, in the traditional Jewish calendar Hanukkah is not big deal.  It reached its present status because it happens to fall at the same time as Christmas.  Jewish parents, therefore, turned it into a gift-giving holiday so that their children didn’t feel completely left out from the happy, generous, celebratory Christmas season.

The fact that it’s not a big religious holiday, though, doesn’t mean that Hanukkah doesn’t commemorate an extremely important event, one that has enduring meaning to all freedom seeking individuals.  For those who don’t know it, the story of Hanukkah is as follows:

Since time immemorial, nations have fought over that small patch of land we now call Israel.  Considering that nature was less than generous in endowing Israel with fresh water or arable land, there must indeed be something special about the Holy Land, some transcendent aura, that has made it such a tantalizing prize to so many nations and people.

In 168 B.C.E., Greek soldiers located in modern-day Syria seized the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and defiled it by dedicating it to Zeus.  Jews were appalled and offended, but still passively accepted this insult, for fear of incurring even greater wrath from the Greeks.  Human nature, though, is human nature, and you cannot appease a tyrant.  Heartened by Jewish passivity, the very next year, Antiochus, the Syrian-Greek emperor, mandated that any Jews who observed Jewish rituals would be put to death.  Just to make sure he was completely clear, he also ordered that all Jews must affirmatively worship the Greek gods.

The Jews realized that it was one thing to be barred from a building, and another thing to be barred from their faith entirely.  The smoldering tinder of Jewish resistance was lit when Greek soldiers in the village of Modiin gathered Jews together, and tried to force the Jews to bow to an idol and eat pork.  Realizing that where the leader goes, the others will follow, a Greek officer focused his efforts on Mattathias, a High Priest.  Mattathias refused to acquiesce to the Greek demands.  In fear, another villager offered to violate Jewish law on Mattathias’ behalf.  Mattathias, rather than being grateful, was outraged.  He killed first the appeasing villager and then the Greek officer.  Mattathias, his five sons, and some other villagers then came together and killed the remaining Greeks.

Outlaws now in Greek-controlled Israel, Mattathias, his sons, and their followers hid in the m0untains and began a guerrilla campaign of resistance against the Greek occupiers.   The fight was a deadly one.  Mattathias and several of his sons died in battle, leaving one of his sons, Judah Maccabee to carry the fight to its conclusion.  As was the case with the American revolutionaries fighting their seemingly insane battle against the might of the British Empire (the most successful military in the world at that time), it seemed impossible to believe that the Maccabees (or Hasmoneans) could win — but they did, driving the Greeks from their lands and restoring the Temple to its rightful glory.

Of course, once the Maccabees first re-took the Temple in Jerusalem, it had been completely defiled by Greek religious practices, including the slaughter of swine on the altar.  The Jews believed that they could purify the Temple by burning the ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days and eight nights.  To their dismay, however, they discovered that they had only enough oil left for one day and one night.  Nevertheless, they lit the menorah and a great miracle happened there:  the menorah burned for eight days and eight nights.  It is this miracle that the Jews celebrate when they light the menorah every night for the eight days of Hanukkah.

The Hanukkah story is a wonderful story of faith, commitment, and bravery.  It is also a reminder that tyrannies, despite their power, are fundamentally unstable.  A committed band of people can come together to topple them.

We are blessed to live in a republican Democracy.  Obama is not a tyrant, but he is creating an infinitely more powerful federal government that has the seeds of tyranny in it (as all too-powerful governments do).  For many of us, the 2008 election was the equivalent of the Jerusalem Temple takeover.  It was a fearsome thing, but we did not yet feel that our lives and beliefs were being fundamentally transformed.

This 2012 election, however, has made us realize that Obama can follow through with vigor on his Big Government initiatives.  All too soon, we may be forced to bow down.  Now is the time for us to fight.  We won’t slay people and take to the hills, though.  Instead, we’ll run for elected office, refuse to let our children’s public schools use our tax dollars to indoctrinate them, boycott anti-American Hollywood products, invest in conservative businesses and news sources, assert our beliefs without apology, and in every way we can, become a conservativism that’s resurgent.

We are the new Maccabees.

Happy Hannukah!

Pigs are flying — Jewish newspaper endorses Republican

The editor of a Jewish newspaper — let me repeat: a Jewish newspaper — has endorsed a Republican.  Because we’re discussing Jews, it may be wrong to analogize this to pigs flying, but I guess it’s okay as long as we’re not eating those pigs for breakfast.

I was at a luncheon today (see below) and was asked, as I often am given that I’m a Jewish conservative:  “How can Jews support Obama?”  It’s an excellent question, and an extremely tough one to answer.  The easiest statement, although also the hardest to analyze, is that Jews have substituted the Democrat Party platform for Torah.  They ostensibly give obeisance to the God of Abraham, but their true God is Progressive politics. 

However, Jews do not forget the Holocaust, and they do not forget that Israel does what Jews have not done since Roman times:  Israel fights back.  To the extent that Obama seems determined to clip Israel’s wings to a fatal extent, leaving her grounded as predators circle, touches something visceral in those Jews who have not drunk too deeply from the political Kool-Aid.  There is hope.

A video telling Jewish voters that it’s okay not to vote for Obama in 2012

There are two constituencies on which Democrats can always count:  Jews and blacks.  And Jews, unlike blacks, give lots of money to their favorite party and they get out and vote.  For many Jews, being a Democrat is an integral part of their identity.  Voting for a Republican is anathema.  It turns them into a heretic who must be shunned by polite society.

But what happens when the Democrat president repeatedly engages in conduct that is hostile to Israel, the Jewish homeland?  And what if this conduct occurs at a time when Israel is facing several enemies that will have the capacity within a short time to extinguish her existence?

For those of us who have already decided that Jewish and Democrat aren’t the same word, the answer to these questions, and others like them, is easy:  don’t vote for Obama.  Not only are his actions towards Israel hostile, he has, in both word and deed, proven to be overly anxious to curry favor with radical Islamists.  This last matters not just to Jews, but to all Americans.  Radical Islamists do not wish us well.  They are explicit in their desire to destroy or subjugate our people and our culture.

As I said, for us, it’s easy.  But for those Jews who cannot separate their core religious and racial identity from the Democrat party, crying foul on Obama is almost impossibly difficult.  Fortunately, help is on the way, in the form of a very thoughtful video, narrated by and focusing on Irina, a 23-year old New York Jewish woman and Democrat, who takes a serious look at what Obama means to Israel and the Jews and, by extension to America:

Will this advertisement help change Jews’ minds?

God said of the Jews that they are a stiff-necked (or stubborn)  people.  They certainly are when it comes to their allegiance to the Democrat party.  Despite three and a half years of manifest Obama hostility to Israel, the vast majority of American Jews still support him.

I can actually understand this attitude when it comes to the younger ones, because they’ve come of age during the demonization of Israel.  With that as the zeitgeist at college campuses around America, it’s not surprising that they see nothing wrong with treating Israel as a pariah nation that must be taught a lesson.  The older generation — the Florida generation — should know better.  These are people who witnessed the Holocaust, the birth of Israel, and the Arab wars seeking to destroy Israel.  These Jews are the ones who have always been the heart and soul of Jewish support for Israel.

But still, they are a stiff-necked people.  The Emergency Committee for Israel is trying to break through the stubbornness with a hard-hitting ad.  Do you think this ad, or ads similar to this one, will do the trick?

Are Jews finally figuring out that Obama isn’t Moses, he’s Pharaoh?

The handwriting was on the wall in 2008 but Jews, despite having eyes, could not see it:  Obama is not now and never was a friend to Israel.  His social and political allegiances meant that any protestations of friendship were lies.  And certainly his acts during more than three years in the White House have been aggressively hostile to the Jewish state, whether he’s been showing personal antipathy to Netanyahu, political antipathy to the Jewish state itself, or bizarre outpourings of love for the Jewish state’s genocidal enemies.

Perhaps too late, or perhaps just in time, some Jews seem to be catching on that Obama isn’t Moses, he’s Pharaoh:

If senior journalist David Goldman is right, the correct word for describing the way a growing number of US Jews feel about President Barack Obama is not ‘anger’ but ‘rage’ – white-hot rage, at that, and a conviction that they have been swindled.

Goldman, Senior Editor of First Things magazine and ‘Spengler’ columnist for Asia Times Online, spoke last week at a convention on intellectuals and terror at Ariel University in Samaria. In his lecture, he quoted a top Jewish campaign donor who used the word ‘sociopath’ to describe Obama. In an interview with Israel National News, he predicted a possibly dramatic ‘train wreck’ for the Democrats in the November mid-term elections, with Jewish fundraising for Democrats drying up and a possibly high turnout of anti-Obama evangelical Christians.

Read the interview with David Goldman here.

My annual Passover post — Pharaoh’s hard heart and the nature of tyranny

I wrote this during Iran’s Green Revolution.  For the paragraphs regarding Iran, please feel free to substitute Syria, the Sudan, the economic victims of the financially decimated European Union, Palestinian children who are pawns in Hamas’ genocidal strategy, or any other group of people groaning under a tyrant’s yoke.

****

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

I know that some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.) The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly. The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different. Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny. The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

Liberals believe that it is immoral to impose serious consequences against the Iranian regime because there are innocents who will suffer from those consequences. What these liberals fail to understand is that, when power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, imposing small plagues against the country (freezing a few bank accounts, public reprimands, vague threats) is utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theater.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover. Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our ultimate goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Proof — as if we need it — that anti-Zionism sentiment is antisemitic and that Israel is not just right but necessary

Today, a gunman hunted out a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing four (three of whom were young children) and then vanishing.  Despite the unusual specificity of the targets (i.e., Jewish children), the usual suspects are very busy denying that the unusual specificity of the targets had anything to do with anything.  D.G. Myers will have nothing to do with this type of dissimulation and uses it to hone in on two very pertinent truths:

Nor have [the shooter's] ethnicity and affiliations (if any) been established. That did not stop commentators on the Washington Post’s story from issuing the standard “Israelis kill innocent children too” equivalencies. This much can be said for certain, however: the shooting at a Jewish religious school had nothing to do with Israel, except in as far as all Jews are identified with Israel, for better or worse. The gunman could not have singled out Rabbi Sandler and his two children, since according to witnesses, he “shot at everything he could see.” As Jonathan said, he simply wanted to kill as many Jews as possible.

But the fact that commentators were quick to draw a connection to Israel — Arab commentators on the Jerusalem Post story did the same — reveals an undeniable truth: Anti-Zionism is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism, precisely because all Jews are identified with Israel, for better or worse.

And there is another connection between this morning’s shooting and the Jewish state as well. If the innocent dead and wounded at Ozar Hatorah were targeted only because they are Jews, there is one place on earth where they will be protected, only because they are Jews. Perhaps there is no better justification than that for the state of Israel.

Molock rising

Long ago, in ancient Phoenicia, arose a religion reviled in Biblical as well as in Greek and Roman lore, that worshiped a deity most commonly known as Molock, Moloch or Moleck. To this deity, parents sacrificed their infant children by cremating them alive in the bronze hands of a bull-shaped statue of the deity (the golden calf all grown up?).

The religion generated revulsion among the Jews, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and other Mediterranean peoples of that ancient time. In Judaic and Biblical lore, Molock was associated with demonology and Satan’s reign. The Romans purportedly destroyed the last vestiges of this religion in the rubble of Carthage, destroying and scattering every structure down to the last brick, so that it could never ever spring back anew. However, this rationalization for infanticide, just published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, makes me wonder if  Molock isn’t stirring anew in the ebb-tide of the Judeo-Christian West.

http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/02/22/medethics-2011-100411.abstract

In my lifetime, I have been witness to the normalization of promiscuous sex, throw-away children, abortion, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, and now, the open rationalization of infanticide should parents change their mind about a living baby. This is the end game of secular humanism, where there is nothing more transcendent about human beings than simple utilitarian sacks of meat. It was observed by G.K. Chesterton that when cultures (or cults) begin to kill their weakest members, their old and their children, such cultures are in the final stage of collapse.

I came to my Christianity relatively late in life. My faith in my faith is absolute. The existence and/or nature of a force for evil in the world, however, has been a more difficult concept to grasp, as there are so many other ways to rationalize evil behavior – e.g., bad upbringing, mean parents, schoolyard bullying, chemical imbalances, mental illness, hubris, etc. Now, though, I am coming to the conclusion that evil is a palpably real force in the world. Either that, or a violently real, contagious, psychic virus!

Ann Coulter’s most recent book, “Demonic”, relates the proclivity of the secular Left (Democrats) for mob violence and bloodshed, tracing its bloody trail from the French Revolution through the Nazi and Communist abominations of the 20th Century, to the social-justice proclaiming Liberal/Left movements of today (oh, heck, let’s throw in the Marxist Jim Jones Cult for good measure). The violence that our society increasingly wreaks on our weakest members is all part of the same disease and I fear that it is going to get much, much worse.

For me, it’s simple: babies are for loving, not killing — I know, I know…others disagree! The publication of such an article under the guise of “medical ethics” tells me that something truly wicked this way comes. Today, the secular Left may feign indignation at the thought that their revolution will ultimately involve killing those that do not fit their Utopian ideals, but we can see how easily they are getting comfortable with the concept over time. It will be what it will be. I hope that I don’t live to see it. But, as the New Age of Molock establishes itself, I certainly will resist it to the end. I know that you will, too.

 

*** UPDATE

And, now, in support of the Secular Humanist view of human kind as utilitarian pieces of meat, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shares her policy perspective that abortion and contraception means fewer babies, ergo fewer government expenditures. Human reproduction becomes a simple government-mandated budget line item.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/sebelius-decrease-human-beings-will-cover-cost-contraception-mandate

One would have to be a total fool not to recognize that this is Government asserting its sovereignty over reproductive rights and life and death decisions.

 

 

One of the reasons the Daily Mail is popular is because of stories about an ultra-Orthodox wedding in Israel

The Daily Mail is one of my go-to places.  I love the strange amalgam of real news, crime stories, pop culture, and general miscellanea.  Today, that miscellanea included an exquisite, and completely un-antisemitic, photo essay about an ultra-Orthodox wedding in Israel.  The pictures are dazzling windows into a different world, a world that is rooted in a different time and place.  Check it out.

Proving that, contrary to all stereotypes (and some statistics), there are stupid Jews

Please, please, please tell me the Rabbi was writing with tongue fixed firmly in cheek:

I’ve got a Tim Tebow problem.

I want to root for the guy, but I’m afraid of what will happen if the hulky Denver Bronco quarterback continues to pull off what is fast becoming the Greatest Gridiron Story Ever Told.

[snip]

If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants.  While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.

That has to be a satire, doesn’t it?  It’s all a big joke, right?  If not, I’m deeply embarrassed that an MOT (member of the tribe) would be such a prejudiced idiot.  He worries me.  I don’t read the Bible often, but I do seem to recall that God does not take it well when his MOTs turn stupid.

I’m tired, and struggling to get beyond calling this guy, as I did, a prejudiced idiot.  Fortunately, others are not tired.  Duane Lester sums up the Rabbi’s foolishness thusly:

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman somehow believes the moral equivalency nonsense regarding Christians and Muslims. You see, if the Muslims will riot over a cartoon of Mohammed, then surely those football fueled fundies will go into a frenzy over one of their own beating all the odds and winning the Lombardi Trophy.

Rabbi Hammerman is a fool. If, God forbid, the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl, there might be riots in Denver, but it will be Budweiser Coors fueling the action, not Christian fundamentalism.

Ace takes on the Rabbi with equal fervor:

Certainly there is a history of pogroms in Europe, and, in America, discrimination. Such fears are not entirely unfounded.

But the idea of a new age of pogrom based upon the Tim Tebow throwing a football seems to be a reactionary one, conceived in hatred, executed in bitterness.

It just seems to be dressing up a tribalistic hatred in some socially-acceptable clothing. Oh it’s not that I hate Christians and their false god or anything. It’s just that I fear they are monsters who will go insane in religious ecstasy if a football hero wins a big game.

Look, I really do believe in tolerance and acceptance and… well, amity, especially among Jews and Christians, who seem to be getting along pretty well.

But tolerance is a two-way street. Those who desire tolerance of the practice of their own religion are hypocrites if they do not permit others to practice their own.

And dreaming up fantastical Protocols of the Elders of Bethlehem murder scenarios doesn’t sound very tolerant to me. It seems to suggest it is inherently evil to proclaim the Christian faith.

Having read Ace, I’ll add one thing:  the Rabbi is not a Rabbi as Hillel or Rambam, or any of the great Jewish thinkers would have understood.  This Rabbi’s temple is the Synagogue known as Beth Liberal, a house of worship dedicated to secularism.

(Just a little reminder that I think very highly of Tim Tebow, not just as a football player, but as a human being.  I hope this doesn’t mean I have to renounce my Jewishness.)

161 years ago, the U.S. Navy outlawed flogging

Do you remember Johnny Carson’s droll “I did not know that”?  I do.  And that’s precisely what popped into my head when JKB sent me a link to a post discussing the fact that 161 years ago, the U.S. Navy outlawed flogging.  It’s a wonderful little story, especially because it combines three things I find interesting:  our Navy, Judaism (yes, Judaism), and plain ol’ fun trivia.

Obama just can’t get things right when it comes to those pesky janitors

Obama is having a bad week when it comes to Joo . . . janitors.  After his mispronunciation faux pas (which was probably the innocent act of a mental stumble bum, but which sounded appalling coming from Obama, who has proven hostile to Israel and the Jews), he’s now issued a Rosh Hashanah message that’s sure to offend.  Here’s the message:

And here’s Keith Koffler explaining why, peculiar accent aside, Obama put his foot in his mouth again:

The insult is this:

Around the world, a new generation is reaching for their universal rights.

By this he means the “Arab Spring.” Just as he did in his Passover greeting, Obama is using a Jewish holiday to tout the struggle of people who, by and large, hate Jews.

It’s a tribute to how little this supposedly worldly man understands about other cultures that he could possibly place the Arabs and the Muslims into a Jewish New Year greeting.

You should read Koffler’s entire post, ’cause it expands on this point.

I’ve said it before of Obama, and I’ll say it again:  What a maroon.