Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Chairperson Mark Levenson, Vice Chairs, Drs. Michael Goldblatt and Alan Mazurek, Treasurer Henry Schwartz, Secretary James Pollack, Associate Treasurer Bart Blatstein, Vice Presidents Sylvia Freyer, Shira Lewis, Dr. Robert Shillman, Myron Zimmerman, Dan Katz, Dr. Stanley Benzel and all of us at the ZOA warmly wish all of our friends a very happy, meaningful and inspiring Hanukkah!
We thank all our friends for your efforts on behalf of the Jewish nation. We hope that this Hanukkah will be both a time of joy for all of you, and a time that strengthens all of us to continue the important and holy work of defending the Jewish nation.
Hanukkah reminds us of the Jewish people’s dedication to our faith, and eternal right and connection to the land of Israel. During 25 years of battles, 2200 years ago (166 B.C.E. – 139 B.C.E.), a tiny band of a few thousand Jewish Maccabees defended the land of Israel, beat back repeated onslaughts from the highly equipped, 50,000-man Syrian-Greek invading armies, and rededicated the Holy Temple in the old city Jerusalem (eastern Jerusalem).
In addition to Jerusalem’s Old City, most of the events that we commemorate today occurred in the Judean Hills and Modi’in. In and around the town of Beit-El, in Judea/Samaria, the Maccabees built their army, and maintained observation posts (which one can still see today), overlooking Israel’s plains – where the Maccabees watched for Syrian-Greek movements and impending attacks. A modern Israeli city of 90,000 Jews, Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut, is located in the same area as ancient Modi’in, halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Incredibly, the United Nations and European Union consider Beit El and parts of Modi’in to be “settlements” and “occupied territories,” and not part of Israel. (See “Modi’in, 71724, Occupied Palestine,” by Judge Dan, Israellycool, Aug. 15, 2012.)
Hanukkah sends a clear message to all those who falsely call the Jewish people “illegal occupiers” of our own land. The Jewish people were there, fighting and dying to maintain our faith and sovereignty and land, for thousands of years before Yasser Arafat invented the propaganda concept of a Palestinian-Arab people in 1964, and for thousands of years before the antisemitic cabal at the United Nations began holding repeated anti-Israel hate fests – such as the UN hate fest held just this past week.
As we light and bask in the glow of the Hanukkah candles, let the Maccabees’ memory and the justness of our cause strengthen and inspire us.