Hanukkah (or Chanukah, or other spellings) is a Hebrew word meaning ‘rededication’. The festival commemorates the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom from the Greek-Syrians more than 2,000 years ago (c160BC).
Jewish practice was outlawed by King Antiochus and the Temple (on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) was turned into an altar to Zeus. A small group of Jews called Maccabees rebelled, and after a three year war they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians.
However the temple had been desecrated and needed to be made pure again. An important part of this process involved the lighting of a lamp, called a Menorah, in the temple to signify the presence of God.
Luckily a small bottle of suitable oil was found but there was only enough to light the lamp for one day. Not nearly enough time for more oil to be pressed and purified. The miracle of Hannukah is that one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight – the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil. Thus, the festival lasts eight days.
While there is little historical evidence for the miracle of the oil, there is plentiful evidence for the oppression of Jews under the rule of Greek-Syrians, the Maccabean Revolt, and the Second Temple.
However, this evidence of a clear historical connection between the land of Israel, specifically Jerusalem, and the Jewish people has been denied by the United Nations. And New Zealand was complicit, raising questions over the sincerity of the “Happy Hanukkah” greeting from the Prime Minister.
Two resolutions passed last week use only the Islamic term “Haram al-Sharif” to describe the Temple Mount, ignoring Jewish and Christian religion and history. This is, sadly, consistent with the UNESCO resolutions that delegitimise Israel and deny the historical Jewish connection to the Holy Land.There were also four other anti-Israel resolutions passed last week and New Zealand voted for three – including those that denied Jewish ties to Jerusalem – and abstained on three.
The United States, Canada, and Australia all voted against the anti-Israel resolutions that denied this connection. Australia has previously abstained. Maybe one day New Zealand will also change the voting pattern to be more in line with traditional allies and to better reflect reality.