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This Hanukkah, we need a Jewish George Washington to fight for freedom

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Hanukkah is a well-known holiday in America, but that’s pretty much only because it often falls close to Christmas. Within Judaism, it is not considered a major holiday, and it’s actually not a story even told in the Torah (Old Testament). Still, Hanukkah carries critical lessons for our time—lessons largely unknown outside the Jewish community, and increasingly (and perhaps purposefully) forgotten within it.

Hanukkah is not about latkes (potato pancakes) and dreidels (spinning tops). It’s not even about a tiny flask of oil that miraculously kept lit the Temple’s sacred menorah for eight full days. Rather, it’s about an uprising of righteous warriors, fighting both outsiders and insiders to reclaim their heritage and secure their freedom.

In short, the story of Hanukkah is a perennial one spanning time and place, for it is the human chronicle of the tension between revelation and “reason,” tradition and “progress,” national sovereignty and universalism.

In the second century BCE, the Greeks of the Seleucid Empire occupied Judea and Samaria and ruled the Jews with a heavy hand. They restricted civil and religious liberties, outlawing, for example, the observance of the Sabbath, the study of the Torah, and the sacred Abrahamic rite of circumcision.


The ancient Greeks went further. They erected a statue of Zeus in the courtyard of the Temple, desecrated the Holy of Holies with pig’s blood, and demanded that the Jews regularly offer sacrifices to the Greek gods.

Some of the Jews accommodated. These Hellenized Jews, whether for status or because of ideology, willingly collected the Greek taxes, performed the pagan sacrifices, and undermined Judean culture. But the Maccabees, a loose coalition of some of the priestly clans, decided to fight back. These Jewish patriots launched a guerrilla campaign that caused the Seleucid king, Antiochus, to lead an army of almost 50,000 men into Judea.

Like George Washington in our own revolution, Judah Maccabee marshaled his forces, and, with skill and courage, eventually defeated the far larger adversary.

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, they smashed the statue of Zeus, cleansed and rededicated the Temple, and relit the menorah. But they did something more. They banished the Jewish priests and nobles who had abandoned the Jewish people to aid the Greeks.

Today, elites embrace a form of Marxism that divides people into classes and worships the power of the state. Given their influence, this is an overt and existential threat to democracy.

Even some sitting members of Congress are working to replace the American way of life with socialism, wokeism, and racialism — false gods of the radical left’s pantheon. Those who despise American greatness unfailingly also despise faith and tradition, Jews, Israel, and the Judeo-Christian bedrock of America. The Iranian mullahs and Palestinian terrorists who chant “Death to Israel!” also chant “Death to America!”

And so it is with “The Squad” and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (“CPC”).

The CPC is the largest ideological caucus in the Democrat Party, with over a hundred members and growing. It represents the most left-leaning faction of the party, stating openly on its website that “America’s racist past is evident in every crisis facing our nation today,” and decrying every element of our society as “racist, misogynist, xenophobic, and ableist.”

Not surprisingly, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Jamaal Bowman, the leaders of this anti-American complot, are avowed Jew- and Israel-haters.


Few politicians on the left have shown the resolution to face down these antisemites in their own party. Tragically and specifically, this includes Jewish Democrats in Congress who support the CPC. The Jewish members of the CPC are doing nothing. Indeed, we have seen this movie before. These are the Hellenists of 21st-century America. Again, whether for status or because of ideology, they are accommodating the forces seeking to destroy our country and all that’s good.

The CPC recently conducted its leadership election and elevated Ilhan Omar to Vice Chair. This is the person who asserted that Jews are greedy monsters who wish to control the world. “Israel has hypnotized the world,” she tweeted, “may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Referring to AIPAC, she tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”


There are Jewish members of the CPC, and, presumably, they voted to elevate Omar and other Jew-haters to leadership roles, thereby giving them a greater platform to promote their anti-American and anti-Israel agenda. We must hold them to account, identify those who fail to act bravely, and organize so they are, like their Hellenist forebears, banished from the halls of power.

Like the Maccabees of yesteryear, we need to rededicate the temple of our democracy, so that Congress once again fully embraces American exceptionalism and our unique destiny of setting an example of freedom for the world.

Josh Mandel, former State Treasurer of Ohio and a Marine veteran of the Iraq war, is a founding board member of TruthTells.

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