We can learn from Judah the Maccabee

Aaron Zelinski, HuffPost:

“Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. Modern celebrants (including Senator Hatch) focus on the miracle of the Menorah, which tradition tells us stayed lit for eight days on a single day’s oil. However, Chanukah is also the political story of a few determined Maccabees leading an uprising against the much stronger Seleucid Empire.

Though the events Chanukah commemorates took place over 2,000 years ago, the historical story of the Maccabees provides useful lessons for our modern era. From the Seleucids, we see how not to fight a guerrilla insurgency. From the Maccabees, we learn how to rally a people and a nation.

Here are Chanukah’s five geopolitical lessons:

1) Corrupt governments propped up by outsiders are inherently unstable. …Massive military force cannot prop up a deeply corrupt regime indefinitely. If we want to end the insurgency, we must clean up the corruption.”

2) Insurgencies feed off charismatic leaders…In the modern fight against terrorism, the United States should not create figures like Judah, charismatic leaders for the other side to rally around. President George W. Bush did exactly the opposite: He promoted the cult of Bin Laden after September 11th, focusing the world’s attention on one man who was wanted “Dead or Alive.” Such pronouncements give guerilla insurgencies a guiding symbol.

3) Rebuilding symbolic structures matters… The literal meaning of Chanukah is “rededication.”

4) Israel was an independent state when much of Europe was untamed wilderness. The modern State of Israel is not a post-Holocaust reparation to the Jewish people, but rather the restoration of an ancient independent state of the Jewish people.

5) The world marches on…For us, even as we confront difficult decisions in Afghanistan and Iraq, we must not lose sight of the broader political ebbs and flows of the world.”


One thought on “We can learn from Judah the Maccabee

  1. Note also column of David Brooks on Friday, which is rather more nuanced.

    Hannukah was long a minor feast. it became popular in U. S. because of competition with Christmass and in Israel because of conflict with Syria.

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