What is the meaning of Chanukah? We know that Jeremiah Wright’s protégé chose to mark the first night of the Jewish holiday by calling for an orgy of Islamophilia. And we are not surprised to know that he wants more and more Muslims to immigrate to the country.
The problem is: all cultures are not created equal. We must note that large numbers of Muslims are anti-Semites. One understands that Wright’s protégé would want them to come to America, but what excuse do Jewish leaders have?
Statistically, the truth is clear. David French reports in the National Review:
… the most broadly held hatred in the Islamic world, is anti-Semitism, with staggering numbers of Muslims expressing anti-Jewish views. In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League released the results of polling 53,100 people in 102 countries for evidence of anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs. The numbers from the majority-Muslim world are difficult to believe for those steeped in politically correct rhetoric about Islam. A full 74 percent of North African and Middle Eastern residents registered anti-Semitic beliefs, including 92 percent of Iraqis, a whopping 69 percent of relatively secular Turks, and 74 percent of Saudis.
Don’t let that stop you from thinking that Islam is a religion of peace.
Anyway, American presidents are obliged to issue proclamations on important religious holidays. So, Jeremiah Wright’s protégé was obliged to issue one for Chanukah. One notes with some chagrin that out president issues proclamations for Earth Day and for Ramadan, but not for Easter.
Now, Ted Cruz and his wife also issued a state of their own. Which of the two showed the most respect for Judaism? And that is not a trick question. If you know which leader showed the most respect, ask yourself which one Jews are likely to vote for.
Writing in the Washington Post Prof. David Bernstein compared and contrasted the two. The results were fascinating and indicative.
Tonight, Jews in America, Israel, and around the world come together to light the first candle of the Festival of Lights. At its heart, Hanukkah is about the struggle for justice in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
Cruz offered this:
Today Heidi and I wish the Jewish Community a very Happy Chanukah. On this holiday, we remember the miracle that enabled a freedom-loving people – led by the heroic Maccabees – to defeat the oppressive dictator Antiochus so that they could once again freely worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For the eight days of Chanukah, the Jewish people commemorate their liberation from oppression and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. As the Talmud teaches, God delivered ‘many into the hands of the few, strong into the hands of the weak, and evildoers into the hands of the righteous.'
Note that Obama did not wish anyone a Happy Chanukah. He preferred to see the holiday in terms of what he believes in, what Bernstein calls a universalist struggle for justice. He has no sense of the specific difficulties facing Jews in the world and especially in Israel today.
For his part Cruz emphasized the fact that the holiday commemorates the Jewish people’s gaining the right to worship when faced with “an oppressive dictatorship.”
As Obama continues, he drops the Jews out of the equation:
It’s a chance to reflect on the triumph of liberty over tyranny, the rejection of persecution, and on the miracles that can happen even in our darkest hours. It renews our commitment as Americans – as people who live by faith and conscience – to lead the way and act as unyielding advocates for the fundamental dignity of every human being.
Again, more universalist claptrap. Or else, Obama is saying that it's not about the Jews, it's about him. In contrast, Cruz identified the rising tide of anti-Semitism, in America and around the world. It all seems strangely suited to the Age of Obama:
Today, the Jewish people, together with freedom-loving people around the world, once again find their religious faith and liberty under attack from radical forces of oppression and intolerance. Whether it is the BDS movement on college campuses, anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, or radical Islamic terror in Israel and around the world, we need modern-day Maccabees to stand together and push back against the forces of evil. As a nation founded by a people seeking religious liberty, America stands with the Jewish people both at home and abroad in protecting the light of faith and liberty.
When he does mention the Maccabees, Wright’s protégé sees their struggle as part of the narrative of rebellion against oppression:
As we recall the Maccabees’ struggle to free a people from oppression, let us rededicate ourselves to being the engine of the miracles we seek.
Bernstein notes that Wright’s protégé does not even mention which people the Maccabees wanted to free from oppression. He adds that Obama’s words are:
… the sort of vague, and vaguely agnostic, and universalistic Sunday school platitudes one might find in theologically liberal congregations around the country….
Cruz presented the story differently:
The victory of the people of Israel is a testament to God’s providence. On these nights when Jewish families around the country and the world celebrate with latkes, lighting the menorah, and playing dreidel, Heidi and I join with you to recognize, ‘Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,’ a great miracle happened there.
Bernstein explicates the meaning of the text:
Cruz’s Chanukah is both a specifically Jewish celebration and a “testament to God’s providence,” to which Cruz, evoking Ronald Reagan, also attributes the wonders of the United States.
Bernstein concludes that each man is addressing the segment of the Jewish community most likely to support his politics:
For Obama, it’s the culturally Jewish, universalist, theologically liberal or atheistic Jews who see in Judaism primarily a call to pursue “social justice,” and who often believe that Jews, as “white people,” don’t come within modern liberalism’s concern for marginalized groups.
For Cruz, it’s the religiously Jewish, theologically more conservative Jews, along with Jews who think that the Jewish position in the world is hardly so secure that they can ignore the fate of the Jewish people in favor of a purely universalistic ethic.