Hanukkah and the Occupation that isn't
It looks like the holidays cannot be complete without warped political messages. Representative Rashida Tlaib, a known anti-Semite, wished the Jews of IfNotNow a happy Hanukkah. In doing so, however, she supported the organization’s 2020 goals of “defunding the occupation in Falestine [sic] and fighting antisemitism and white nationalism." IfNotNow claims it is “building a movement of Jews to end Israel’s occupation and transform the American Jewish community.” It also has extensive ties to American Muslims for Palestine, an organization in turn founded by groups that the U.S. government has claimed financed Hamas.
Tlaib and IfNotNow are attempting to accomplish what the Greeks tried and ultimately failed to do many years ago -- deny the Jews religious and sovereign rights in their ancestral homeland of Judea and Samaria.
The Jews had sovereignty or pseudo-sovereignty of Judea and Samaria during:
- The Kingdom of Israel (1020 to 930 BCE);
- The northern Kingdom of Israel (930 BCE to 720 BCE);
- The southern Kingdom of Judah (930 BCE to 586 BCE);
- The Yehud under the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean Empire (586 BCE-539 BCE);
- The Yehud Medinata under the Persian Achaemenid Empire (539 BCE to 332 BCE);
- The Hasmonean Dynasty under the Greek Seleucid Empire (the Seleucids) (164 BCE to 63 BCE)
- The Hasmonean Dynasty under the Roman Empire (63 BCE to 40 BCE);
- The Herodian Dynasty under the Roman Empire (37 BCE to 6 BCE);
- The First Jewish-Roman War (66 CE to 73 CE);
- The Palestinian Patriarchate under the Roman Empire (80 CE to 425 CE)
- Full independence from the Roman Empire as a result of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion (132 CE to 135 CE); and
- Jewish autonomy in Jerusalem under the Persian Sasanian Empire (614-617 CE).
Before the “occupation” slander became chic, the Jews were (once again) fighting for their sovereign and religious rights in Judea and Samaria. These events would later be celebrated in Hanukkah, and include:
- 168 BCE: In Judea (in Jerusalem, specifically), the Seleucids loot the Second Temple and outlaw Judaism.
- 167 BCE: in Judea (in Jerusalem, specifically), Antiochus IV of the Seleucids orders a statue of Zeus to be erected and pigs to be sacrificed in the Second Temple, and bans circumcision. Matthias ben Johanan and his five sons Jonathan HaGaddi, Simon Maccabee, Eleazar Maccabee, Jonathan Maccabee, and Judah Maccabee initiate the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus IV and the Seleucids.
- 167 BCE: In Samaria, in the Battle of Wadi Haramia (near modern day Ma’ale Levona), the Maccabees defeat the Seleucids.
- 166 BCE: In Samaria, in the Battle of Beth Haron, Judah Maccabee leads the Maccabees to victory against Seron and the Seleucids.
- 166 BCE: In Samaria, in the Battle of Emmaus, Judah Maccabee leads the Maccabees to victory against Gorgias, Nicanor, and Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and the Seleucids.
- 165 BCE: In Judea (in Jerusalem, specifically), the Maccabees recapture and rededicate the Second Temple. This is the main event celebrated in Hanukkah.
- 164 BCE: In Judea, in the Battle of Beth Zur, Judah Maccabee leads the Maccabees to victory against Viceroy Lysias.
- 162 BCE: In Judea, in the Battle of Beth-Zecharia, Viceroy Lysias and the Seleucids, along with elephants defeat Judah Maccabee and his brother Eleazar and the Maccabees. Eleazar is killed in battle as an elephant he kills falls on him. Elazer, a modern Israeli town in the Gush Etzion Bloc in Judea, is named after him.
- 161 BCE: In Samaria, in the Battle of Adasa in the Givon Valley, Judah Maccabee leads the Maccabees to victory against Nicanor and the Seleucids.
- 160 BCE: In Samaria, in the Battle of Elasa, Bacchides and the Seleucids defeat the Maccabees and kill Judah Maccabee.
- 142 BCE: In Judea, the Hasmonean dynasty re-establishes the Second Jewish Commonwealth, where the Jews regain autonomy from the Seleucids.
The Jews are the indigenous inhabitants, not the occupiers, of Judea and Samaria. In these lands, the Jews fought off occupation and religious persecution from the Greeks to re-establish sovereignty and religious freedom. Efforts by Tlaib, IfNotNow, and others to co-opt Hanukkah by peddling the false “occupation” narrative are attempts to deny the Jews their rights to their homeland.