Global, Israel

Thoughts on the last night of Hanukkah

After they burned the Temple in Jerusalem in 71CE, Vespasian and Titus kept the memory of their great victory over the Jews (and the God of the Jews), alive in the memory of the citizens of Rome with a military parade of great pomp. Josephus, the Jewish historian, was an eyewitness to the parade, Arch of Titusand records that amongst the other tokens of victory, depictions of battles and spoils of war, the Roman soldiers displayed the candelabrum from the Temple, the table upon which the shewbread was placed and the Torah. This survives in the victory arch of Titus, completed after Titus’ death in 80.
Josephus then recounts that Titus built a Temple of Peace and deposited the candelabrum, the table and the Law therein. This was a shrewdly political move, signaling the beginning of a new era of peace, and connecting Titus and Vespasian with Augustus who had set up an altar to Peace (the Ara Pacis) in 9CE. Peace, or Pax or Eirenes was a god like Victoria or Virtus. The temple, it seems was built with money that was stolen from Jerusalem. Placing the spoils of the Jerusalem Temple in the Temple of Peace, indeed parading the menorah and the table through Rome, was a sign of the ultimate defeat of the God of the Jews and the destruction of their cult. This then was the “peace” that the Romans won.Richard Meier
The Jews, however, did not understand that their God had been defeated. Rather, they saw themselves as having been punished for their sins. They continued to nurture the hope that they would return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. An immediate result of this was the Bar Kochba revolt in 132.
These were the thoughts that came to mind as I read the reports of the latest episode in the predictable and predictably awful and tragic dance of death between Israel and Gaza. Israel is building a Temple of Security and is willing to sacrifice all of Gaza, and the short term security of Israel’s southern cities, on its altar. Hamas is a willing participant in this ritual. They too are willing to sacrifice all of Gaza. (People willing to sacrifice their lives for an idea or an ideal is an infinite resource which carries no moral weight, but does inevitably lead to the death of others.) The coming moves are also all too predictable. More rockets, ground troops, suicide bombers, deaths and repeat.
Some sane voices here here (especially from about 7 minutes in) and here.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the last night of Hanukkah

  1. Every article I read about the Israeli campaign in Gaza, even the British press, which tends to be biased against Israel, lists the type of targets that Israel has destroyed and all of them are legitimate military targets under international law, i.e. weapons manufacturing, weapons smuggling, communication centers, security and paramilitary targets; I have yet to come across any report (not to say there isn’t a credible one floating out there) that implies a war crime may have been committed. Of the governments condemning Israel, how many of them keep to legitimate military targets when they go to war?
    So what is the source of this charge of “disproportionate force”? Is it because the Hamas aligned forces can’t aim their rockets very well, frequently missing living targets? Is it because Israeli forces are carrying out a strategy that has a chance of ending the Hamas threat on the long term?
    Aryeh makes a good point about Hamas being a willing participant. A negotiated peace settlement was already off the table even when the truce was still being somewhat observed. As I’ve pointed out before, Hamas only maintains it’s political dominance in Gaza because it has used violence to eviscerate (sometimes literally) any potential political rivals from amongst the people of Gaza. Where was the international outrage for that? This isn’t a legitimately sovereign regime that just happens to make boneheaded decisions– this is a regime whose hold on power is based on terrorizing it’s own population.
    I’m not laying out these observations to give anyone a blank check, just to point out that whatever emotions of outrage or defensiveness we might experience and words we might use mask the complexity of the situation.
    Those of us who are Americans, if we have any sympathy for anyone caught up in this conflict need to pressure our own government to take an active role in negotiating a ceasefire and continuing from that point to negotiate a lasting peace. J Street has just such a petition going around.

  2. sacrificing the youth to Moloch won’t make anyone’s crops grow any better and certainly won’t make anyone a light among nations. how many more generations will get their bodies and psyches f**cked up before a military stalemate is acknowledged? everyone knows its the truth. yes, Israel can bomb the shit out of Hamas and occupy Gaza again, but what the hell with that accomplish in the long run? And Hamas, of course, seems content just to die and take people with them. This kind of death worship is the religion of the desperate and unlearned. The human race has so much more potential than this. It really does.

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