Amidst Hanukkah Festival, Israel Points to History to Prove Land Rights

Israeli PM Netanyahu lights the Hanukkiah candelabra at the Western Wall. Photo Courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Israeli PM Netanyahu lights the Hanukkiah candelabra at the Western Wall. Photo Courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the traditional Hanukkah festival candle lighting on Sunday to reiterate the Jewish people’s right to the historic Land of Israel in the face of the latest United Nations resolution, and he pointed to the history of Hanukkah as proof. “According to the U.N. resolution, the Maccabees [revolutionaries of Hanukkah history] did not liberate Jerusalem, they occupied Palestinian territory,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, also mentioning the Maccabee home village in Modi’in as another such example.

“Of course the Palestinians arrived much later. We were in these places,” he continued. “We will return to these places and I ask those same countries that wish us a Happy Hanukkah how they could vote for a U.N. resolution which says that this place, in which we are now celebrating Hanukkah, is occupied territory.”

Netanyahu made the comments while lighting the Hanukkiah candelabra at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism and located in the Old City of Jerusalem the U.N. resolution accuses Israel of occupying. The Israeli Prime Minister wasn’t the only one pointing to the past to undermine the recent U.N. vote.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lit the Hanukkah candles in the city of Beit El, an Israeli settlement in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. Among other historical events, Beit El also is the site of the Biblical Jacob’s dream envisioning a gateway to heaven.

“This is our history, this is our country, this land which we worked, and which we fought for, and today more than 2,000 years since the Maccabees, the descendants of Judah the Maccabee raise the flag here in Beit El,” said Rivlin in comments released by his office.

Rivlin pointed to the heroism of the Maccabees, who fought off the world power Greeks to reestablish an independent Jewish state, and compared that courage to the modern Israelis who live in the contested Judea and Samaria region.

“Jewish bravery is… not just physical bravery, but spiritual courage. As a symbol of this are you, the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, the pioneers before the camp who deal each day with terror attacks, injuries to body and mind, international boycotts, sanctions, isolation, de-legitimization, and uncertainty.”

Netanyahu made it clear that Israel’s claim to their historic homeland didn’t end in the pages of history. “The Western Wall is not occupied. The Jewish Quarter is not occupied. The other places are not occupied either,” said Netanyahu. “Therefore, we do not accept, nor can we accept, this resolution. We are certain of our future just as we are certain of our past.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 26, 2016)

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