Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Hannuka Among the Hellenists
2. Hannuka Among the Hellenists
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 Left.
The Israeli Left 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 Sorek, a
"historian" who teaches at the Beit Berl College in Israel. Beit Berl is a
college run by the kibbutz movement.
The "historian" Sorek 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 Sorek, that most evil of all crimes in the "minds" of Israel's
fundamentalist Leftists. 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. Sorek is a member of that same
Fundamentalist Left 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 Sorek. 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 Sorek.
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 Sorek, instead of pursuing some sort
of Hellenistic Oslo appeasement and capitulation, the sort the
"enlightened Left" seeks today to impose upon Israel. All Judah Maccabee
really wanted to do was to Occupy, Occupy, Occupy, insists Sorek. No
better than the West Bank settlers today! And not only that, but Judah and
his hooligans were Orthodox Jews, which every leftist 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, Sorek is hardly a lone phenomenon. Israel's anti-Jewish
leftists 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
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
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 Left.)
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 Left has its way, the Post-Hasmonean,
post-survivalist era will be upon us.
See also: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/2015
The director or Beit Berl is Ruthie Gavri at
Phone 972-9-7476302 firstname.lastname@example.org
Beit Berl's fax is 972-9-7476340
A form letter on the web for writing Beit Berl is here.
Article can be read here. Sorek's email address is
3. So why not apply capital punishment NOW to HIM?
4. Who let the dog out (of Gaza)?
Spinners and cheaters
By DANIEL DORON
6. God Is a Problem, Sources Say
How secular newsrooms handle stories with a religious component.
By VINCENT CARROLL
In a jarring misreading of the Islamist mentality, the New York Times last
month described a Jewish center in Mumbai, India, as the "unlikely target"
of the terrorists who attacked various locations there. "It is not known
if the Jewish center was strategically chosen," the Times went on to
declare, "or if it was an accidental hostage scene."
Paul Marshall would not be surprised by such stunningly na.ve statements.
In "Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion" -- a collection of
essays that he edited with Lela Gilbert and Roberta Green Ahmanson -- he
notes that similar assertions have been common in the coverage of Islamic
terrorism. The book's contributors explore all sorts of news stories with
a religious component -- Islamic and otherwise -- showing where reporters
have veered off course and discussing the reasons why.
Despite 9/11 and dozens of equally pitiless massacres, some journalists,
Mr. Marshall says, are reluctant to accept the "fundamental religious
dimension" of jihadist motives. Such journalists concentrate on "terrorist
statements that might fit into secular Western preconceptions about
oppression, economics, freedom and progress." When terrorists murdered
Christian workers while sparing Muslims in the offices of a Karachi
charity in 2002, Mr. Marshall observes, "CNN International contented
itself with the opinion that there was 'no indication of a motive.' Would
it have said the same if armed men had invaded a multiracial center,
separated the black people from the white people, then methodically killed
all the blacks and spared all the whites?"
But surely journalists do a better job at stories in their own backyards.
Actually, no. According to the evidence in "Blind Spot," the coverage is
often worse. Jeremy Lott reminds us, for example, of the media hysteria in
2004 that greeted the release of the movie "The Passion of the Christ."
Never mind that director Mel Gibson seemed to confirm the worst suspicions
of his critics two years later when he spouted anti-Semitic drivel after
an arrest for drunken driving. The contempt of journalists was hardly
reserved for the director alone. Many confidently predicted that, if by
some chance this violent rendition of Jesus' death found an audience, it
would unleash a surge in anti-Semitic bigotry or even an orgy of violence.
Such forecasts appear delusional in retrospect. They were possible, Mr.
Lott maintains, because of "a troubling willingness by journalists to
believe the worst of religious would-be moviegoers."
Edited by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Roberta Green Ahmanson
(Oxford, 220 pages, $19.95)
The chasm between a profoundly secular media and their audience was also
unmistakable upon the death in 2005 of John Paul II. Although the pope's
international legacy was treated with respect in most post-mortems --
reporters could hardly miss his role in the fall of communism -- his
influence within the church was described in decidedly less flattering
terms. " 'Disciplinarian' was often used," Amy Welborn tells us, "as was
'authoritarian' and even 'monarchical.' "
Most journalists apparently believed that the "only Catholics dissatisfied
with his pontificate were those advocating women's ordination or changing
Church positions on abortion or homosexuality," yet the pope took
positions and made appointments that bothered traditionalists, too.
Indeed, the most notable excommunication of his papacy was of the "deeply
traditionalist archbishop Marcel Lefebvre." In some respects, Ms. Welborn
argues, conservative Catholics may have been even more frustrated by John
Paul's papacy than liberals.
The same conservative template was immediately imposed on Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger when he became Pope Benedict XVI. The gentle, complex
intellectual the public has grown to know over the past three years was
variously described as "polarizing," "hard line" and, in an oft-repeated
phrase, "God's Rottweiler" because of his Vatican role, as cardinal, in
protecting church doctrine and disciplining theologians.
No less revealing has been coverage of the faith-based effort to deploy
U.S. foreign policy on behalf of victims of persecution. An alliance that
included conservative evangelicals, the Catholic Church, Jewish groups and
a variety of other organizations prodded Congress into passing four
watershed measures: the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the Sudan Peace Act of 2002
and the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. "Any one of these
initiatives is a major story," Allen D. Hertzke writes, "but together they
represent the most important human rights movement since the end of the
Not only was this story underplayed in the press; it was often miscast as
merely a crusade of Christian conservatives and reported with patronizing,
skeptical references to their claims -- as if the persecution of
Christians abroad was a matter of debate. Too many journalists apparently
have trouble treating with respect any movement in which Christian
conservatives provide what Mr. Hertzke calls "crucial grass-roots muscle."
Such attitudes no doubt explain the media's double standard in the
coverage of the 2004 presidential election. As C. Danielle Vinson and
James L. Guth observe: "The Bush campaign in evangelical churches was
portrayed as unusual and certainly questionable, whereas [John] Kerry's
outreach through black churches was seen as routine." Ms. Vinson and Mr.
Guth maintain that "the most significant problem is not media bias but
media ignorance," but their own evidence suggests that the problem is
equal parts of both.
Many journalists, it would seem, equate modernity with secularism. Yet God
refuses to retire, not only in this country but in most of the rest of the
world. Terry Mattingly offers a prescription for better coverage: "Editors
do not need to try to hire more reporters who are religious believers," he
says, but they do need to hire more journalists "who take religion
seriously, reporters who know, or are willing to learn to hear the music."
At a time of newsroom cutbacks, such advice may fall on barren soil. If
so, the news media will continue to miss a vast dimension of mankind's
Mr. Carroll is editorial-page editor of the Rocky Mountain News.
7. Leftwing Anti-Semitism: a Good Bibliography:
Olmert's Friends, again: