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Dr. Mordechai Kedar
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Prof. Phyllis Chesler
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Why do we take it? How is it that a society chooses to sleep, rather than wake up from their bad dream and fix things? Sometimes it takes a 'the shock factor' to do what 'rationalization' smothers. The little known Chanukah story of how the Hasmonean revolt started, was actually because of a very brave woman!
(This is a re-post of a previous chanukah blog)
The background of the Chanukah story recalls the struggle for religious freedom from the Hellenistic Syrian-Greeks in the year, 165 B.C.E. Antiochus, who was the occupying King at those times, sought to crush our Jewish identity and passed decrees against the practice of Judaism. We were forbidden from studying the Torah, we were forbidden to keep the Shabbat (Sabbath) and we were forbidden from making a brit milah (circumcision). To do so meant the death penalty.
"Hellenistic rituals and sacrifices were instituted in the Bet HaMikdash (the holy Temple in Jerusalem), thus desecrating the sacred center of Jewish ritual life. Many Jews were impressed by the culture and power of their Greek conquerors and adopted their customs and practices. These Jews came to be known as "Hellenists". – Sound familiar to our situation today?
“Other Jews were infuriated by the oppressive decrees aimed at destroying their religion, and vowed revenge. They were led by Mattityahu, a Chashmona'i (Hasmonean) who lived in Modiin with his five sons, who came to be known as the Maccabim. This name is derived from the first letter of each word in the phrase "Mi kamocha ba'elim Hashem?" ("Who is like You, O L-rd, among the mighty?". After three years of guerrilla warfare in the hills and forests against the strong and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus, the relatively small and poorly armed Maccabim won, and recaptured Jerusalem. But WHAT started this revolt? What shocked the Maccabim into action?
One of my favorite stories of Chanukah is the story about Chana (Hannah). Not the extremely powerful story of Hannah and her 7 sons, but a different ‘Chana’.
This 'Chana' used what I think is an important strategy to wake people up from their stupor. Shock.
Too many of us do not want to change our daily routine. We are comfortable in our lives and we don’t want disruption, and so it easier to bear burdens if they come in servings that we are able to swallow. If an evil regime passed all their terrible laws at once, people would be convinced they must fight. But if the laws are ushered in one by one, in bite sized pieces, we learn to adapt. We act this way because it is easier to be a little uncomfortable than have to go to battle and face having to risk it all, to lose everything we have worked for and even possibly risk our lives and that of our children. No one likes disruption, and so we swallow the evil.
Sometimes we need someone to slap us, to wake us from our stupor and fight the evil that has embedded itself in our midst. A young woman who lived many years ago did just that. And we should all thank her.
The story from the Midrash goes like this:
(Taken from http://www.madrichim.org/contents.aspx?id=229 )
The Marriage of Chana, Daughter of Mattathias (Mattityahu)
As part of their campaign to break the spirit of the Jews, the Greeks decreed that every maiden must spend her wedding night in the bed of the regional governor, and that only afterward would she be permitted to her husband. They wanted to destroy Jewish sanctity and degrade the Jews. As a result of this decree, the Jews stopped marrying. For three years and three months, no wedding was held in Judea. Then it came time for Hannah, daughter of Mattityahu the Hasmonean to marry. In spite of the decree, Mattityahu held a great celebration, inviting the leaders of the nation, for Mattathias' family was extremely prominent. The bride sat, as was customary, at the head table, but suddenly stood up, clapped her hands together, and tore her expensive wedding dress, exposing herself.
Everyone looked away in embarrassment, and her brothers ran to fall upon her and kill her for shaming herself and her family.
But Hannah exclaimed to them all, 'now you are so zealous as to shield your eyes?, for THIS you are zealous, yet you are willing to have a Greek see me naked and have his way with me?' She added, "Why, when I shame myself before my relatives and friends are you so filled with embarrassment and anger that you wish to kill me, but you agree to surrender me this night so the heathen governor can lie with me? Why do you not learn from Simon and Levy, sons of our forefather Jacob, who avenged the rape of their sister Dinah (in Genesis, chapter 34)? They were only two brothers who fought and took a whole city to free her, I have FIVE brothers - and where are you?'
This, my friends, is what spurred the revolt of the Maccabees on the Syrian-Greeks and led to the first holiday commemorating religious freedom and the lift of the yoke of Hellenism and Greek occupation.
The story of Hannah goes on:
"Everyone realized that Hannah was right; her brothers discussed the matter and came to a decision. They dressed their sister in the finest garments and brought her with great ceremony, at the head of a large procession, to the King. Hannah's brother's declared, "We are the sons of the High Priest, and it is not fitting that our sister be given to the governor. Our sister is fit only for the King himself!" The brothers' words found favor in the King's eyes.
The brothers accompanied Hannah to the royal bed chamber, and thereupon, seized the King and killed him. Afterward, they stormed out killing ministers, guards, and servants, who were in the palace. So began the Hasmonean revolt. "
A sequel to this story is the story of yet ANOTHER Jewish Heorine named Yehudit (Judith). Yehudit was a beautiful woman who single-handedly saved the Jewish town of Bethulia during the Hasmonean revolt.
When her city was surrounded and besieged by the Syrian army of General Holofernes, she made a plan to save her people. She left the city walls of Bethulia with her maid in what looked like her fleeing to Holofernes' camp. She told the cruel General Holofernes that she wanted to save herself and told him that the defeat of the Jews of the city was near. Impressed with Yehudit's beauty and her prediction of his defeat of the Jews, he invites her to celebrate with him 'alone'. Yehudit tells him she must eat her own food which she made, and shows him the cheese delicies she has brought with her. She feeds him this salty cheese, which induces the general to wash it down with wine and he falls into a deep sleep. She then approaches his bed and says a prayer:
"Answer me, O L-rd, as You answered Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, when you delivered the wicked general Sissera into her hands. Strengthen me this once that I may bring Your deliverance to my people whom this cruel man vowed to destroy, and let the nations know that You have not forsaken us..."
Yehudit then unsheathed Holofernes' heavy sword which was hanging near his bed and brought it down upon his neck with all her might.
She leaves his bloody corpse soaking his mattress and takes the head and her maid away from the slumbering enemy camp to Bethulia. She tells the Jews of Bethulia that victory will soon be theirs. She takes the head of Holofernes and puts it on a stake in public view to strengthen the will of the people. She then tells the Jewish men to wait for dawn to make a surprise attack. The enemy's camp is not prepared for a Jewish onslaught on them. When the morning comes with the charge of the Jews towards their camp, Holofernes's men run to their commander's tent where they find his headless body on the blood soaked mattress. In their shock, fear and confusion, they flee for their lives. The Jews won the revolt and Yehudit was their hero.
This Chanukah, we must remember the valor and strength of the Jewish women who risked their lives, to keep Israel Jewish. To Chana and her 7 sons, to Yehudit, and to Chana the daughter of the high priest who shocked the Jews into action, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
"I am coming for you" and "Machine gun in my hand" are just two songs that are on the (tongue in cheek) Palestinian Hit Parade. Can an entity such as this be real partners for peace? It's a rhetorical question, I know. But it is worth a peak into the music coming out of a society, to try to understand them better.
American music is mostly about boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, heartbreaks, new found love, and 'walking on sunshine'. Examining music and poetry from Israel during the early years, it was mostly about 'the Land of Israel, peace, peace, and more peace, and building a better tomorrow. Today, Israeli music has gravitated more towards the American love/relationship realm as the world has gone more global and that's what sells. Love is always a topic of the arts. In the Palestinian Authority, they also play Arabic love songs, but it is the songs of war that also dominate their culture. And this is worrisome. Hatred, guns, bullets, swords, blood, skulls, death, martyrdom and Allah are common themes found in their battle songs. Songs get people to identify with them and songs get people marching.
For a quick 46 minutes of 'fun', take a listen to the show by clicking HERE.
And now, here is a piece written by my weekly guest, Walid Shoebat, an Arab researcher and former Islamic terrorist. Put on your seat belts, he's going to give you an inside look at some of the music his old peers continue to embrace.
SONGS OF DEATH by Walid Shoebat
In my teenage days it was all about defeating Israel. Revolutionary songs played a key role in galvanizing Arab masses to Jihad against Israel; from wedding songs our fathers sang from 1948 glorifying terrorists to 1967 and 1973 during Yom Kippur. But now, it is getting much worse with Islamist Nasheed songs that speak of fortresses of skulls.
I memorized them all and we sang them with joy waiting for the day that we will get at the Jew’s Adam’s apple.
While Israel had Hatekva (Hope) as their national anthem, we had Fidae (terrorist) as our national anthem which originally came from Egypt taking the same music from their famous Biladi (my country), but changing the lyrics to Fidae (Terrorist)
Fidai Fidai Fidai Ya Ardi ya ardal judud
Terrorist, terrorist, terrorist my land the land of my forefathers …
With my persistence and my fire
And the volcano of my vengeance
And my blood’s desire
To my land and home
I climbed the mountains and entered the struggle
I did the impossible and broke the shackles
Palestine is my home and the path of my victory
Palestine is my vengeance
And the land of my steadfastness
“Palestine” is defined as a “vengeance” and not just as a country. But the word “terrorist” in Arabic songs was not only a signature of revolutionary organizations like the PLO. The best Arab classical singers took pride on such songs. Singers like Abdul Halim Hafez, Umm Kulthum, Farid Al-Atrash and Fairuz who were all secular and the most favorite in the Arab world, yet they all contributed providing terror songs. Here you will find Abdul Halim Hafez from my old days:
Terrorist, terrorist terrorist terrorist … terrorist
I gift my blood to Arabism
I live or I die
I really do not care
Just to see the Arab flag reign
In the midst of dangers
There I will be
Victory was never safe
Inside the locations
Between the canons
In the middle of the bombs
I go down and fight
I live or die
I really do not care …
Then you will find Farid Al-Atrash, one of the best classical singers in Arab history. He even sang songs praising terrorists:
He sings of the day when the Jew will finally meet his ultimate fate as predicted in Islam:
Tell them where will you [the Jew] hide?
For you have a bitter appointed day
We united crescent and cross
And we gathered far and near
It will be a destined day
That history will record
They glorified Allah and said
Allah is great
Allah is great
There is no God but Allah
Then you have the time during Yom Kippur in 1973, the favorite song was Bismiallah (In the Name of Allah)
Bismillah (in the name of Allah) Bismillah
Allah is Great Bismillah
Bismillah Call to the prayer Bismillah
We revive our Jihad in Bismillah
Allah Akbar (Allah is Great)
And say O Lord
The victory is great
We crossed the Sinai in Bismillah
Arab revolutionary songs are designed to make the terrorist intimate with his guns and his explosives. It is fast speed and its purpose is to move the adrenaline to make one’s blood boil with anger and hatred.
Take the song titled My Machine Gun in My Hand
With my machine gun
In my hands
I will continue on the path
Since occupied territories
Will never return for free
I will continue on the path
My machine gun
And my bullets
Are the path to my salvation
And who will stand in my path
I will shoot in the head
And I will continue on the path
My machine gun is my comrade,
My friend and my brother
We understand each other’s language
And it saves me in time of trouble
My machine gun is always on my shoulder
It’s my bed and my blanket
And as long as we are together
We will never be afraid
And will continue on the path
Palestinian Revolutionary songs intend to make teenagers come out by the droves like locusts to kill the enemy Jew.
The song I Am Coming For You just does that
(notice about 1:20 in, the IDF soldiers attacked by rocks)
I am coming for you
I am coming for you
From every corner, nick and cranny
I am coming for you
With my weapons and my faith
I am coming for you
Our war is the war of the streets
I am coming for you
I swear that I will stand in front of you
From every wall and house
We will come down
With knives and daggers
And with our hand grenade
We declared the people’s revolution
I swear my enemy
You will not escape
From the hand of the people and the revolution
And I will jump across the fire
As the people go on the path
Today Islamic revolutionary songs do not only call for eradicating the Zionist occupier but elevates a distinct pride when Islam removed past empires. It is globalist in its aspiration and is void of musical instruments, which are forbidden to use in Islam.
Such songs speak of massacres, beheadings and piling fortresses of skulls. They focus on reviving history of the glory days when Islam reigned, not just as a religion but as an empire.
The most favorite of Muslim terrorists is the song “Sawarem” (The Sword). Here it is fully translated:
When I researched Jewish songs I could never find any song that had the word “war” or “blood” or “massacres”. When I finally found a song that had the word "war", it was Lo Yessa Goy El-Goy Kherev. I noticed the word “Kherev” means 'sword' (war), but the song was saying “And nations will not learn war any longer”:
I pray for the day that the words of Isaiah the prophet are finally fulfilled. I’ve had enough of war songs.
Thank you Israel, for teaching me to do away with my war songs.
The world should not be condemning Israel for going into Gaza, they should be THANKING us.
I have just returned from 2 days in the south of Israel, being with my people who are living under impossible conditions. Just in the last 48 hours, I experienced the 'racing into bomb shelters' when air raid sirens went off. ...Several times.
Being cooped up and pressed against people whose names I do not know, but who are my brothers and sisters, waiting in these bomb shelters, or taking refuge behind walls because there was no nearby shelter when the missiles came heading for us, we would together hear the BOOMS and THUDS, and then feel the ground shake beneath our feet.
After a stressful day, arriving at where we'd be sleeping for the night, we were awakened to yet another siren a little after 12:30am. Shaking my husband awake and in the dark going quickly to the 'safe room' that all new apartments and homes have in Israel (by law), we waited until we heard the BOOMS and thuds. After it was over, I went to the balcony to see if I could see anything in the dark. Nothing, but I could smell what seemed like gunfire powder from the explosion of the missiles by the Iron Dome anti-Missile system which must have exloded somewhere above our building. After a siren wakes you, it is hard to go back to sleep, and thus a night's sleep is robbed, and yet you have to function and be on your toes the next day. And then the next morning brought several more alarms, booms, and thuds. Once, I didn't make it in time to the shelter, and I saw in the sky, as the siren was blaring,, an Iron Dome anti-missile shooting through the air. I was looking for the incoming missile, and then a flash of light and a BOOM and then I saw a burned grey shape in the sky where the terrorist's grad missile exploded. It was (in a negative way) AWESOME, wow, wow, wow. I then went for cover as more missiles were likely to come. Though one can train themselves to remain calm, the body is under intense stress that builds up with every alarm and missile income. Friday morning, my husband and I had to pack up and leave the south, we did not want to go, but we needed to be back home in the Jerusalem area (YESHA) to be with our children and wider family for the Sabbath. That night, back in the Jerusalem area, we ourselves had a siren of an incoming missile some where. -Only here, we don't have a 'safe room/bomb shelter' as our homes are older. We went to the safest room in the house with the least amount of windows and the most insulated. No peace it seemed.
Re-wind-back 24 + hours:My son, who is in the IDF paratroopers, and just 21 years old, called me because he knew he was being sent into Gaza. He called at about 11:45pm and asked my husband if I was awake, and to please put me on the phone with him. "Eema," which means 'mother' in Hebrew), "This is it." he said.IN OTHER WORDS he was telling me that they received orders to go into Gaza. I got a lump in my throat. He continued talking to me over the phone, "Eema, if I have hurt you in any way, please forgive me. I love you Eema. And tell all my siblings (he named them all) if I don't get to speak with them again, that I love them. And tell grandma and grandpa also, ok?" I realized, in slow motion, that this was his 'goodbye phone call' to me, to his father, and to the family. I didn't expect it. It was too soon. I mean, I always knew he may be one of the ones sent into the terrorist's nest to do the job that has to be done to protect the innocent, but it was never 'for sure'.What could a mother do? I tried to speak, but I broke down as the reality of the meaning of this call hit me. "I love you sweetheart" I choked out, "I will always love you! Take care of yourself! Be safe, I am praying for you!" and I started to cry, two gulps came out and then I quickly regained my composure and got the words out, "I will give your siblings your message, yes, I will tell them for you. Stay strong!"I am one of thousands of mothers whose child is now ready to go into Gaza, and may have gotten a call similar to this. Our boys are now being sent in to fight and uproot the terrorists who want to kill us here in Israel, and when finished (G-d forbid with us), these terrorists would turn their eyes to you in the West to kill you too. You see, we here in Israel are the 'Little Satan', and you in America are the 'Big Satan'. We, the Jews are the Saturday People, and you in the West are the 'Sunday People', and they want to kill us all. We (the West and Israel) did not want this war. This war has been thrust upon us. While Israel is being rained on with missiles from these criminal Islamic terrorists, we are the ones who have the job of cleaning up and hopefully removing these cruel ones from the face of this earth so innocent men, women, and children can live in peace and safety.
The world should not be condemning Israel for going into Gaza, they should be THANKING us.Please pray for our sons and daughters who have to go into Gaza. Please recite these Psalms, 130, 121, 83, 20, 91, and please pray for the nation of Israel under fire, and that G-d blesses our soldiers and keeps them safe, and that He gives wisdom and courage to our leadership to do the right thing and ensure peace and security to not only us here in Israel, but also to all peaceful and freedom loving people around the world.My son, and all our soldiers could use your prayers.
This is a public letter to the Prime Minister of Israel. It was written by an Israeli mother in the south of the country who is trying to raise her family without the constant missile and rocket attacks they face, whenever the terrorists in the Gaza strip feel like killing Jews. She wrote this using capital letters, so I am leaving it as is, to show her distraught.
THEY'RE SHOOTING AT MY KIDS!!!
MR. PRIME MINISTER, WHY ARE YOU NOT PROTECTING THEM???
WHY ARE YOU NOT PUTTING A STOP TO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ON THIS COUNTRY???
INSTEAD OF ELIMINATING THE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL, YOU TRY TO PACIFY YOUR OWN CITIZENS WITH BAND-AID SOLUTIONS.
YOU CAME DOWN SOUTH AND MADE YOUR APPEARANCE AND THEN PROMISED SOUTHERN CITIZENS FUNDING TO ADD ON SAFE-ROOMS.
BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE ATTACKS FROM CONTINUING.
(Above) A public bomb shelter in the south set up for people caught outside during a missile or rocket attack. The cement walls are placed in front where it faces the direction of Gaza. Credit: Avraham Goodman from Ma'agalim, Israel
ARE THE SOUTHERN BORDERS OF ISRAEL NOT IMPORTANT???
WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO LIVE UNDER CONSTANT ARAB AGGRESSION?
MY KIDS ARE AFRAID TO PLAY IN THE PARK FOR FEAR OF A MISSILE HITTING THEM FROM THE SKY ABOVE.
WHY DO MY KIDS HAVE TO LIVE THIS WAY? WHY MUST THEY LOOSE SCHOOL DAYS???
IS EDUCATION IN THE SOUTH NOT AS IMPORTANT AS IN TEL AVIV???
WHY DO MOTHERS HAVE TO PRAY THAT THEIR CHILDREN WILL RETURN HOME SAFE FROM SCHOOL OR OUT PLAYING???
WHY DO FIELD TRIPS IN SCHOOL GET CANCELLED BECAUSE OF FLYING ROCKETS???
WHAT PARENT IN TEL AVIV HAS TO CALM DOWN THEIR CHILD AFTER BEING WOKEN FROM SLEEP TO A SIREN AND LOUD VIBRATIONAL BOOMS???
SHOW ME A SCHOOL YARD OUTSIDE OF THE GAZA BELT THAT CHILDREN ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PLAY IN, FOR FEAR THAT THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO RUN FAST ENOUGH TO SAFETY???
REGULAR CHILDREN HAVE FIRE DRILLS IN SCHOOL, MINE HAVE ROCKET DRILLS. IS THAT NORMAL???
CEASE WITH YOUR EMPTY PROMISES!!!
OUR SCHOOLS DO NOT NEED TO BE FORTIFIED!!!
OUR CITIES & TOWNS DO NOT NEED MORE BOMB SHELTERS!!!
WE WANT SECURITY, NOT BAND-AIDS!!!
WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO HAVE A NORMAL & SAFE CHILDHOOD!!!
WHERE IS YOUR LEADERSHIP, YOUR STAMINA???
WHERE IS JUSTICE?
HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOU CAN KEEP ADMINISTERING BAND-AIDS?
SHAME, MR. PRIME MINISTER!!!
I hate to say it, but Romney was a disappointment last night at the last USA presidential debate. I would have been interested in hearing about China and how it makes forgeries of American goods and gets away with it, but only if I was at a trade convention. Then I would have cheered him on. But this last of three debates was his opportunity to prove to the American people - and the world, why he'd make a better president than Barack Hussein Obama, and he didn't do it
The debate was supposed to be on foreign policy. Then why didn't Romney talk about the dismal state of America's image in the eastern hemisphere of the world today? He should have said, "Mr. President, how can you say America's image is strengthened since you've been in office, applying your foreign policy, when in these last 4 years, American embassies are being burned down all over the Middle East and American embassy staff are being murdered? American flags are being stomped on and burned in public squares, massive crowds in the street chant "Death to America!" and calls to get the 'Big Satan' (America) are routinely called for on Arab TV, by influential leaders. American & Western reporters are being savagely sexually molested by western-hating mobs in countries that are (supposed to be) post Arab Spring 'enlightened'."
Why did he let Obama get away with all of this?