Christmas vs. Hanukka

Does he look Palestinian?

21 December 2011

Waiting for a Palestinian Judas Maccabeus?

Because they have already appropriated Jesus

Around about this time, when Christmas and Hanukka fall at about the same time (this year the eight days of Hanukka and the twelve days of Christmas actually overlap) the arguments about whether Hanukka is the Jewish Christmas rise anew.  There’s a mea culpa here. As a child in culturally Christian Australia I happily pocketed the Hanukka geltand Christmas presents from the various service organisations my parents belonged to, without guilt.

Anne Frank the Palestinian

Anne Frank - Palestinian?

The Christmas-Hannuka connection did get me thinking, however. Why, if the Destroy Israel Lobby, BDS, Arab money, some Christian groups, the ‘extreme’ ‘Left’ etc. has co-opted Christian iconography to attack Israel, don’t they co-opt Jewish imagery from this festival. They have already appropriated Holocaust imagery without embarrassment. An Internet search will find Anne Frank the Palestinian and young Palestinian victim of the Warsaw ghetto with arms upraised.

The Hannuka story would on the face of it be an ideal addition to the Palestinian narrative. A small group of ‘indigenous’ citizens take on the might of a foreign occupying army – and win. Can’t you just imagine Arafat as Judah the Maccabi? Can’t you just imagine the Palestinian hero in a keffiyeh, as Simon stabbing elephants? Surely there’s some way of fitting the ubiquitous Hanukka menorah into the story‡?

So why don’t they do it?

Are you surprised that I have several theories?

  1. Denying any Jewish connection to this land is more important than yet another piece of imagery. The Hanukka story, combined with supporting historical evidence is yet more proof of Jewish connection. Only Muslims and Christians are permitted. At least Christians are until no longer necessary for PR.
  2. The name is a problem. I always knew him as Judah or Yehudah but even Judas (as in the Apostles) is problematic. Sounds too much like Judea. This is solvable of course. Most of the Old and New Testament prophets have their Arabic equivalents.
  3. Jewish holidays are simply too unfamiliar – regrettably even for the Jews.
Further reading:
Antochus IV Epiphanes

The Syrian Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes*


† Literally Hanukka gold. It can mean gifts but is just as likely to be round pieces of cheap chocolate covered in gold-coloured paper to resemble coins.
‡ After much searching I did find a menorah as the cannon on an Israeli tank.
* Coin of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. English:  Left: Head of Antiochus IV. Right: Zeus Nikephoros enthroned. Greek inscription reads Antiochus, image of God, bearer of victory

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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