Even as he allowed an anti-Israel resolution to pass at the UN Security Council, President Barack Obama wished Jews a “Happy Hanukkah” on Friday.
“As night falls over each of the next eight days, Jews in the United States, Israel and around the world will gather to light their Hanukkah menorahs, display them proudly in the window and recall the miracles of both ancient times and the present day,” the president said in a statement, as reported by The Hill.
He continued: “For more than two millennia, the story of Hanukkah has reminded the world of the Jewish people’s perseverance and the persistence of faith, even against daunting odds.”
Obama’s statement emphasized religious freedom — and downplayed Hanukkah’s themes of political independence.
The holiday (also transliterated as “Chanukah”) commemorates the successful revolt of the Jewish community of ancient Israel against the Seleucid dynasty in 165 B.C., led by the Maccabees.
It is among the most nationalistic holidays in the Jewish calendar, turning Obama’s greeting into something of an ironic insult.
The UN Security Council resolution calls for an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and declares them illegal under international law. Israel argues that the settlements are not illegal, since there is no prior legitimate sovereign in the territory, and argues — referring to precedent and existing peace agreements — that the matter is a subject for bilateral negotiation.
Prior to the vote at the UN Security Council, a senior Israeli official told Breitbart News that President Obama had pushed the anti-Israel resolution “behind Israel’s back”:
President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN. The US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory. President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it. This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace.
The Maccabees’ revolt was also against the repression of the Jewish faith, and the desecration of the Holy Temple. When the Maccabees recaptured the Temple, they found only enough oil to light the sacred menorah lamp for one night, but it lasted miraculously for eight days and nights — hence the tradition of lighting candles during the holiday in commemoration.
Israel’s UN Ambassador, Danny Danon, referred to Hanukkah and the ancient revolt in his defiant statement against the resolution at the UN Security Council, concluding: “Who gave you the right to such a decree denying our eternal rights in Jerusalem? … We overcame those decrees during the times of the Maccabees, and we will overcome this evil decree today.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.