Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
At the White House Hanukkah Party on Wednesday afternoon (December 14, 2016), President Obama began his remarks by stating:
“Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference. That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time… The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world. So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.”
We wish to remind the President how – and where – that small group of a few thousand Jewish Maccabee fighters beat back the 50,000-men strong, far better equipped Syrian-Greek invading armies in 25-years-long battles (166 B.C.E. – 139 B.C.E.). For the Judean hills, the old city of Jerusalem (a/k/a eastern Jerusalem) and Modin – the very same land where the Jewish Maccabees lived, fought, hid, launched battles, defended against Syrian-Greek army onslaughts, prayed and rededicated the Jewish Temple 2200 years ago –may be declared land that Israel “illegally occupies” in potential upcoming UN Security Council resolutions.
The same areas are just as vital to the Jewish people’s survival today as they were to the Maccabees. Israel is still a tiny nation in a sea of hostile Arabs that seek Israel’s destruction. Surrounding Arab nations occupy an area 800 times larger than Israel. The Arab nations’ population is 50 times larger than Israel. Israel faces Hamas’ rockets and terror tunnels in the south, Hezbollah’s arsenal of 200,000 rockets in the north, and the Iranian-Syrian buildup in the northeast. Chopping up Israeli territory to place a hostile Palestinian Arab state that Hamas and Iran will quickly control in the strategically critical hills of Judea/Samaria would be a mortal danger. We urge the President to remember all this, and to veto the upcoming UN resolutions, thereby allowing Israel to survive and Israel’s light to continue to uplift the nations of the world.
Modin: The Maccabees’ first battle occurred in Modin – when the Syrians built an altar in the village marketplace and demanded that the old Jewish priest Mattityahu and town’s Jews offer sacrifices to Greek Gods. Mattityahu refused, and the first Maccabees – Mattityahu and his sons and friends – fell upon and defeated the Syrian soldiers. (See “The Story of Chanukah,” Chabad.org.)
Incredibly, the European Union lists parts of Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut, which is located in the same area as ancient Modin, as a “settlement” and not part of Israel. Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut is a modern Israeli city of 90,000 Jews, including Israel’s Chief Rabbi, located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. (See “Modi’in, 71724, Occupied Palestine,” by Judge Dan, Israellycool, Aug. 15, 2012.)
The Judean Hills: Following the victory in Modin, Mattityahu knew that the Syrian-Greek ruler Antiochus would be enraged when he heard what had happened in Modin, and would send an expedition to destroy him and his followers. Mattityahu and his sons and friends retreated to the Judean hills, where other courageous Jews joined them. They hid in the hills, formed legions, and launched guerilla attacks against the enemy. The topographic advantage of the Judean hills enabled the Maccabees to defend against and repel Syrian-Greek attacks launched from the plains below.
Today, in Beit El (also spelled Bet El) in Judea and Samaria, Israel, one can still see the Maccabees’ hiding places and observation post, overlooking Israel’s plains – where the Maccabees watched for Syrian Greek movements and attacks. The Maccabees’ observation post is a few steps from the famous rock where Jacob slept and had his famous dream. (See “Beit El Tourism: Connecting Heaven and Earth.”)
The strategic advantages of the Judean hills are as important to the Jewish nation’s security today as they were in the Maccabees’ time. If these historic Jewish areas became part of a Hamas/Palestinian Arab state or are declared “illegal” for Israel to claim – as the upcoming UNSC resolution is expected to demand – then all of Israel, including Israel’s major cities and airport, would be subjected to deadly rocket and other attack from the hills’ heights.
As Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson said when he explained in 1968 why he made sure that UN Resolution 242 called for Israel to have “secure and recognized boundaries” and did not require Israel to return all the territories that Israel captured during the defensive Six-Day War: “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders. Some such lines must be agreed to by the neighbors involved.” (See “Lyndon Johnson Speech on “A Just and Dignified Peace,” Jewish Virtual Library, Sept. 10, 1968.)
Eastern Jerusalem: And of course, the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks, rededicated the Jewish Temple and lit the lamp that miraculously lasted for 8 days in the old city of Jerusalem (“eastern Jerusalem”) 2200 years ago – 800 years before Mohammed founded Islam. Yet, the expected UN Security Council resolution seeks to cut these areas off from the Jewish state too.
We thus urge President Obama to search his soul, remembering his Hanukkah message and the Maccabees’ struggle, and to make sure to veto the upcoming UN resolutions that gravely endanger Israel, which is a light unto the nations.