Monday, December 11, 2017
Happy Hanukkah, 2017, as We Celebrate President Trump's Jerusalem Proclamation
THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS THAT HANUKKAH BEGINS AT SUNDOWN ON TUESDAY. • • • HANUKKAH, THE FEAST OF LIGHTS. Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees’ rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BC. According to rabbinic tradition, the holiday also commemorates the miracle of the oil : one day’s supply of oil for the Temple’s lamp lasted eight days when the Temple was purified, but the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day's lighting. Thus, celebrations of Hanukkah, which in Hebrew means "dedication," include lighting candles each night. Some people see Hanukkah as a celebration of religious freedom, whereas others see it as a triumph of tradition over assimilation. For others, it is an opportunity for festivity during the darkest time of the year, the winter solstice. • • • PRESIDENT TRUMP FOLLOWED WHITE HOUSE TRADITION IN HOLDING A HANUKKAH CELEBRATION. Here is an excerpt of President Trump's remarks at the 2017 White House Hanukkah Celebration : "THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room. Jerusalem. Thank you. And Melania and I are thrilled to welcome you and so many wonderful friends to the White House. We wish you a very happy Hanukkah, and I think this one will go down as especially special....This evening we gather to celebrate the story that is told in Jewish homes across the country and all over the world, a story that began more than 2,000 years ago with a tyrant -- who made practicing the Jewish faith punishable by death. He desecrated the Jewish temple, including the Holy of Holies. But a small band of Jewish patriots rose up, defeated a mighty army, and soon reclaimed their freedom. But the miracle of the Maccabees did not end there. As they prepared to rededicate the temple, they found only enough oil to light the lamp for a single night. Soon, all were stunned to find that for eight days, the lamp continued to burn brightly -- a sign of God’s presence in his dwelling place and a symbol of the faith and resilience of the Jewish people. You do have faith and you do have resilience. The miracle of Hanukkah is the miracle of Israel. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have endured unthinkable persecution and oppression. But no force has ever crushed your spirit, and no evil has ever extinguished your faith. And that is why the Jewish people shine as a light to all nations. And right now I’m thinking about what’s going on and the love that's all over Israel and all about Jerusalem. On behalf of all Americans, I also want to say how grateful I am for Jewish congregations throughout our country. You cherish your families, support your communities, and uplift our beloved country. Hanukkah is a time for Jewish families around the world to celebrate the miracles of the past and promises of the future. We are proud to stand with the people of Israel and to renew our enduring bond. This evening, we are blessed to have two very special Hanukkah lamps for this celebration. The menorah on my left has been lit every year since the earliest days of our nation. It comes from the First American Jewish Congregation, whose original members came to this land in the 1650s. That's a long time ago. It’s a symbol of the history and home the Jewish people made in the United States. Today, we are honored to have with us the congregation’s 10th spiritual leader since the American Revolution, Rabbi Soloveichik....We’re also deeply honored that Louise Lawrence-Israëls is here to share this evening with us and to make a few remarks. Louise is a Holocaust survivor. The first three years of her life were spent in hiding in an attic in a row house in Amsterdam -- amazing story and amazing situation to be in. Her family could not light the candles that we’re about to light this evening, but they lit them in their hearts. On my right is a lamp that survived the Tarnow Ghetto, a city in southern Poland that ravaged and was ravaged by the Holocaust. It will remain unlit in memory of that darkest hour and in order to preserve this relic so that we never, ever, ever forget. And you will never forget. Thank God that a woman who was born into that nightmare of oppression now lives in this land of the free, and that she, along with everyone here tonight, can light the menorah for all the world to see. And the world is watching. Today, our nation is stronger, and our world is more full of promise -- because of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the faith that burns so brightly in your hearts. May you all have a truly blessed and happy Hanukkah. God Bless you and God Bless America. • Along with President Trump were his wife, Melania, his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, the President’s grandchildren, whom he noted are Jewish : “I am also proud that my beautiful grandchildren -- Arabella, Joseph and Theodore -- have joined us tonight right here as we celebrate with all of you the sacred traditions that they observe each year at home.” Vice President Mike Pence, his wife, Karen. Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, who attended, is director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, and the rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan. Holocaust survivor, Louise Lawrence-Israels, spoke at the event about hiding as a young girl in an Amsterdam attic. Jewish Cabinet officials Steven Mnuchin and David Schulman, Secretary of the Treasury and Veteran Affairs, respectively, and Trump’s special Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who also is Jewish, were among the guests. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is Jewish, was at the reception wearing a kippah. The White House denied that politics played a role in the invitations, which didn't include Democrats. Mrs. Trump's office told the New York Times on behalf of the First Lady : “I am not aware of the political affiliation of any of the guests, but I do know that this year was meant to be more personal than political.” • • • HANUKKAH 2017 AND JERUSALEM. Of course, the White House Hanukkah celebration this year was closely tied to President Trump's recognition of Jerusalemn which came on December 6, just a few days before Hanukkah begins. Breitbart's Joezl Pollak noted : "The remnants of the #NeverTrump movement, made up of conservatives who swore never to support Donald Trump for President, generally acknowledged that Trump had done something special on Wednesday when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and directed the State Department to begin moving the embassy there. Other Trump achievements, such as the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia, could arguably have been made by other Republican candidates. But there are few others -- and perhaps none -- who would have dared to defy the foreign policy establishment, the media, the threats of terror, and the chorus of international criticism to fulfill a campaign promise broken by predecessors from both parties. Trump’s decision is in a category of its own, and most of Trump’s passionate NeverTrump critics could not ignore it. Most effusive of all was former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro, whose website had all but called Trump anti-Israel during the 2016 campaign, declared that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was an act of 'political bravery' and 'moral courage' in an appearance on Fox News. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg paused from his customary recitations of Trump’s failures in office to tweet : 'Good for Trump moving the embassy to Jerusalem.' Bethany Shondark Mandel, one of Trump’s (and Breitbart’s) most incorrigible critics, declared the #NeverTrump movement dead last month and tweeted proudly Wednesday : 'Americans voted for Donald Trump precisely because he won’t deny basic geopolitical facts because terrorists tell him not to.' Erick Erickson expressed similar sentiments in an op-ed for Fox News titled : 'Jerusalem is why Trump’s in the White House.' In it, Erickson said : 'President Trump is committing the most grievance 'sin' any politician in Washington can commit. He is walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. This is the behavior that is responsible for his election...The American people have become deeply cynical about American politics and deeply skeptical of political promises. They took a radical chance by voting for Donald Trump and, where he can, they are seeing him keep promises other politicians made and never kept. The reaction of Washington’s elite will only prove to Americans that the voters were right all along about the liars inside the Beltway. That, in turn, will probably help re-elect the president in 2020.' Commentary‘s John Podhoretz, who has viciously attacked not only Trump but anyone supporting him, praised the President in a column at the New York Post : 'This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,' President Trump said in announcing America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Never have truer words been spoken, and they were delivered in the best speech Trump has ever given. What Trump did was stunning. He could just have signed the waiver of the law passed in 1995 compelling the executive branch to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did it six months ago, just like his three immediate predecessors did every six months since 1996. Or he could have not signed the waiver and simply said he was going to start the process of building the new embassy. Instead, he called the international community’s seven-decade bluff and ended a delusion about the future that has prevented Palestinians from seeing the world and their own geopolitical situation clearly. It is a bold shift.' David French of National Review -- a publication so determined to stop Trump that it published an entire issue devoted to the cause -- called Trump’s decision 'a blow against international anti-Semitism.' French, who had actually contemplated running against Trump as a third-party spoiler candidate in 2016, declared Wednesday : 'President Trump’s decision to formally recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to announce plans to move America’s embassy to the seat of Israel’s government is one of the best, most moral, and important decisions of his young administration. On this issue, he is demonstrating greater resolve than Republican and Democratic presidents before him, and he is defying some of the worst people in the world.' " • The shift within #NeverTrump because of the Jerusalem proclamation might charitably be described as intellectual integrity, in that its members are able to concede when Trump does something right. But, not all #NeverTrump losers were willing to concede just because of Prezsidsent Trump's extraordinarily courageous act in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Notably, Bill Kristol, normally a vocal supporter of Israel, was silent. He found time to tweet from Japan that “Trump is a demagogue” (Tuesday), and “Neither of our two political parties remotely resembles a serious and responsible governing party” (Wednesday), but said nothing about Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and the Israel embassy. For people such as these, opposing Trump is more important than the consequences of his presidency. • • • BACKLASH AS EXPECTED BUT MOSTLY FROM THE MEDIA. while the world has been deluged with scenes of Palestinian demonstrations and the Israeli air attack on a Hamas center in Gaza -- done after numerous rocket launches were directed at Israel -- not all observers agree with the media's coverage. On Sunday, Gatestone Institute published a Newsflash : "Jerusalem Not on Fire!" by Bassam Tawil. He quoted Björn Stritzel, a German journalist, who reported : "More journalists than protesters..." • Bassam Tawil wrote : "Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the 'war correspondents,' there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the 'clashes.' Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their 'courageous' reporting from danger zones! Jerusalem is tense, and has long been so, because the Palestinians have not yet managed to come to terms with Israel's right to exist. That is the real story. The Palestinians rage and rage for only one reason: because Israel exists. Put that in a story and publish it. The Palestinians declared a three-day-long 'rage' spree over US President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thus far, however, it seems that the real anger is showing up in the international media, not on the Palestinian street. Question: How many foreign journalists does it take to cover the Palestinian reaction to Trump's announcement? Answer: As many as the Israel-Palestinian-conflict-obsessed-West can manage to send. The massive presence of the international media in Jerusalem and the West Bank has taken even the Palestinians by surprise. Since Trump's announcement on December 6, dozens of additional journalists and camera crews have converged on Israel to cover 'the big story.' The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, once a favorite haunt of international reporters, is once again packed with journalists from around the world." • One story that has not been much reported in the aftermath of the December 6 Trump proclamation is this -- the UK Daily Mail published a report that 20 masked men threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue as terrified youngsters huddled in the basement. The attack happened as young people from the local Jewish community were attending an event at the synagogue. A witness described seeing a ball of fire approaching the synagogue. The synagogue attack occurred while hundreds marched in Sweden to protest about Trump's Jerusalem recognition, with some at one march heard to say 'shoot the Jews', local media reported. The Daily Mail's Tariq Tahir reported that the synagogue attack was carried out in central Gothenburg : "Dvir Maoz, the World Bnei Akiva youth movement's emissary in Gothenburg, said the attack happened a little after 10 p.m. while youths from the local Jewish community were attending a party inside the synagogue complex. He described looking out from inside the synagogue lobby area and from the corner of his eye seeing 'a ball of fire' approaching the building. 'The guards saw it in the security cameras and called police right away. The children were stressed, it was the first time they had ever experienced a terrorist attack near them.'....Allan Stutzinsky, chairman of the Jewish Assembly in Gothenburg, witnessed the attack and he said : 'There were tens of masked people throwing burning objects into the courtyard.' The attack happened after several hundred people marched through the centre of Malmo on Friday night to protest against President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. According to local media some chanted: 'We have announced the intifada from Malmo. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews.' " • • • DEAR READERS, as we wish our Jewish brothers and sisters a Happy Hanukkah, we should also remember them in our prayers and support the right of Israel and Jewish people everywhere to exist, to have a country, to celebrate their holy days, and to choose their capital city just as the rest of the world does, and to be free of terrorist attacks. May they be blessed with gifts of love, peace, and happiness this Hanukkah. • Chag Hanukkah Same'ach -- "Happy Hanukkah Holiday."