Wednesday, for the sixth time since taking office, President Obama released a Hanukkah message that distorted the story of the holiday and served his anti-Israel policy. In his message, Obama left out the most essential part of the Maccabees victory: the recapture of Jerusalem and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple atop what is now known as the Temple Mount, a fact he’s omitted every year of his presidency, and something his predecessor George Bush mentioned in each of his Hanukkah messages.
The liberation of Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple from the Hellenistic idols and rituals is a most important part of the Hanukkah story. In fact, the meaning of the name of the holiday in Hebrew translates to the word “dedication” in English. A fact that, unlike his predecessor, President Obama ignores in his presidential Hanukkah statements:
Over the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jews across America, Israel, and the world will remember an ancient triumph of freedom over oppression, and renew their faith in the possibility of miracles large and small.
Even in the darkest, shortest days of winter, the Festival of Lights brims with possibility and hope. The courage of the Maccabees reminds us that we too can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. The candles of the Menorah remind us that even the smallest light has the power to shine through the darkness. And the miracle at the heart of Hanukkah – the oil that lasted for eight nights instead of only one – reminds us that even when the future is uncertain, our best days are yet to come.
May this Hanukkah embolden us to do what is right, shine a light on the miracles we enjoy, and kindle in all of us the desire to share those miracles with others. From my family to yours, Chag Sameach.
Now here was George W. Bush’s Chanukah Message in 2008:
I send greetings to all those celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights.
Hanukkah commemorates a victory for freedom and the courage and faith that made it possible. More than 2,000 years ago, the land of ancient Israel was conquered, its sacred Temple was desecrated, and the Jewish people were forbidden to practice their faith. A patriot named Judah Maccabee and his followers rose up against their oppressors to take back Jerusalem. When the Maccabees returned to reclaim and purify their Holy Temple, the oil used for dedication should have lasted only one day but burned for eight. Every year since then, Jews have celebrated this victory of light over darkness and given thanks for the presence of a just and loving God.
As Jewish Americans prepare to light the Hanukkah candles, we are reminded of the many blessings in our lives. The candles’ glow has the power to lift our souls, put hope in our hearts, and make our Nation a more compassionate and peaceful place. We pray that those who still live in the darkness of tyranny will someday see the light of freedom, and we ask for God’s continued guidance and boundless love and His protection of all those in need during this holiday season.
Laura and I wish all people of the Jewish faith a Happy Hanukkah.
George W. Bush
In 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act endorsing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and requiring the US Embassy to move to Jerusalem. But Congress gave the executive branch an out, every six months the State Department/President can request and receive an automatic waiver. A waiver that President Bill Clinton issued to congress every six months as required.
President Bush continued the policy every six months, but in Bush’s case he inserted into the legal jargon a sentence stating, “My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.” The phrase appeared in all 16 Bush waiver notifications. The Obama administration removed that phrase from their waiver requests.
This Obama omission is important beyond just the Hanukkah story. Jerusalem, wrote historian Martin Gilbert, “is not a ‘mere’ city. It holds the central spiritual and physical place in the history of the Jews as a people.” This President’s policy is to ignore any ties between Jerusalem and the Jewish people and his holiday message is just one ways he displays his policy.
It’s time for President Obama to skip distributing a Hanukkah message at all, it’s preferable to insulting the Jewish people with his politically-driven distortion of the holiday.