December 15, 2006
Hannuka Among the Hellenists
By Steven Plaut
Of all the Jewish holidays, the one that I think best captures the contemporary Jewish zeitgeist, the one that is the most relevant to the current (and, if certain trends are not reversed, the last?) chapter in Jewish history, is Hannuka.
Hannuka is, of course, the story of Jewish national liberation. It is the story of the military victory of the few against the many, of the champions of Judaism against the pagan barbarians.
But it is more than this. It is the saga of the heroic struggle of Jewish survivalists (those one would today label "Zionists") against the assimilationists and self-hating Hellenists of the second century BCE.
Hannuka is less a story about the battle against the Greeks than it is about the battle against the predominant assimilationist paradigm at the time among the Jews. It is about the battle against the anti-survivalists, those who hated themselves for being Jews, those who seek to be "progressive", "modern", and "in", through rejecting, abasing, disgracing and degrading themselves and their people. The Hellenists who fought the Hasmoneans were struggling against Jewish survival. Sound familiar?
In the United States, the main movement of Hellenistic assimilationism has been the school of "Political Liberalism as Judaism", the pseudo-religion that holds that all of Judaism can be reduced to the pursuit of this week's liberal political fads. But the global avante garde of Jewish self-hatred these days is the Israeli Fundamentalist.
The Israeli Fundamentalist is the main manifestation today of Jewish anti-Semitism.
It not only promotes "plans" and policies designed to end Israel's existence, increasingly endorsing the one-state, bi-national Rwanda solution to the "problem" of Israeli national existence, but it also regularly attacks every symbol and concept of traditional Judaism.
You think I am exaggerating? Well just consider the Op-Ed a few years back in the Israeli anti-Zionist daily Haaretz, penned by one Yehiam Soreq, a "historian" who teaches at the Beit Berl College in Israel. Beit Berl is a college run by the kibbutz movement.
The "historian" Soreq devoted his Haaretz column to proving that the Maccabees were fascist and racist hooligans, bloodthirsty zealots, and downright Likudniks. His column was entitled "Bloodthirsty Zealots". His thesis was that Jews should stop celebrating Hannuka and the exploits of the Maccabees, and should instead feel sympathy for the poor occupied and mistreated Greeks and Hellenists.
His article was not a spoof.
The evil Maccabees were plotting to perpetrate population "transfer", wrote Soreq, that most evil of all crimes in the "minds" of Israel's fundamentalists. Population "transfer" is far worse than, say, mass murdering 2000 Jews after signing with them a series of peace accords, or turning the West Bank and Gaza over to barbarian fascists to allow them to carry out such mass murders. Soreq is a member of that same Fundamentalist that will not rest until all Jews have been expelled from the West Bank and Gaza in an act of ethnic cleansing, and until no Israeli armed forces are left behind to interfere with the terrorist activities of the "Palestinians."
Matityahu, the father of Judah Maccabee and his brothers, was a lunatic, wrote Soreq. He was a warmonger who dragged his country into an unnecessary "war of choice", one that was not a legitimate "war of self-defense". (Never mind that there is nothing at all in Judaism that says Jews should refrain from conquering their lands unless it is part of a war of self-defense.) The Maccabees were the aggressors, insisted Soreq. And they suppressed the free speech of those who supported the Greeks; how undemocratic of them!
Judah Maccabee was guilty of causing many families to lose their loved ones by leading people to war, wrote Soreq, instead of pursuing some sort of Hellenistic Oslo appeasement and capitulation, the sort the "enlightened " seeks today to impose upon Israel. All Judah Maccabee really wanted to do was to Occupy, Occupy, Occupy, insists Soreq. No better than the West Bank settlers today! And not only that, but Judah and his hooligans were Orthodox Jews, which every fundamentalist knows must make them primitive and barbaric; you know, unlike the enlightened Marxist historians who live on nice kibbutzim or teach at the Beit Berl college.
Unfortunately, Soreq is hardly a lone phenomenon. Israel's anti-Jewish have been launching similar jihads against every other symbol of Jewish valor. Masada was a cesspool of non-tolerant fanatics, according to them. The Bible is a backward document full of fabrications. Schools should stop teaching it altogether, they demand, and instead teach something really useful, like the works of Palestinian "poets". Archeology proves the Bible is nothing but lies and fantasy, they insist. One wag labeled such people Pentateuch Deniers (intended as a play on "Holocaust Deniers").
In Israel, the country's politics - particularly its cultural/educational elite and its chattering classes - are now largely dominated by those motivated by the desire for their country to commit national suicide. They scorn themselves, their own country and their own people, the same way that the Hellenized Jews did at the time of the Maccabees. Many endorse boycotts of Israel by anti-Semites abroad. Like the Hellenized Jews, they are convinced that traditionalist Jews are reactionary and primitive, and that the greatest national priority should be renunciation of Jewish peculiarity and the striving to assimilate amongst the cosmopolitan progressive "Greeks" of the world. They are ashamed of their Jewishness and convinced that the only path to peace is to renounce it. They insist that a Seleucid "narrative" should replace the Jews' own reactionary national one.
Israel's universities are by and large the Occupied Territories of these Hellenists. The Israeli media is to almost the same extent. Hellenists dominate much of the Israeli military and, somewhat incredibly, the intelligence services. (It is doubtful the country could have undergone the Oslo debacle had these intelligence services not operated as lap dogs for the Beilinized Israeli Fundamentalist.)
Hellenists have attempted to rewrite the Israeli school curriculum, to teach Israeli Jewish children to despise themselves. Their message is that Jews must feel ashamed, because they are mean, selfish, evil and immoral people. Surely, there would be no anti-Semitism on the planet were not the Jews such racist and insensitive people.
Their aim is to convince the Jews that the only way they may become accepted in the world is to adapt to paganism, to stop seeking to exist as a separate national entity, to commit national suicide. Moreover, their campaign is aimed at challenging the moral existence of the Jews. They realize this is the weakest chink in the armor of the Jews. If Jews can be convinced that they are morally in the wrong, then no Maccabees will emerge. The aim of the Jewish Hellenists is the delegitimization of the Jews as a nation, discrediting the moral position of Jewish survivalism.
The message of the contemporary Hellenists is unambiguous: Those who wish to purify the Temple, who seek pure oil for the Temple lamp, who wish to evict the barbarians from Jerusalem, are the enemies of peace. The Maccabees must be arrested for incitement. The Jews must provide Antiochus with concessions and arms and funds and a Road Map. Under no circumstances should the Jews seek to defend themselves militarily against the Seleucids, for there is no military solution to the problem of Seleucid aggression. If the barbarians murder the Jews, it is because the Jews are evil, selfish people and because they have been too reluctant to abandon their primitive survivalism.
If the Israeli anti-Jewish has its way, the Post-Hasmonean, post-survivalist era will be upon us.
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