Chanukah and Intersectionellenism

The late eminent atheist (and, as it turned out, genealogical Jew) Christopher Hitchens had a particularly nasty bug up his nose about Chanukah:

“When the fanatics of Palestine won that victory, and when Judaism repudiated Athens for Jerusalem, the development of the whole of humanity was terribly retarded…. The display of the menorah at this season…has a precise meaning and is an explicit celebration of the original victory of bloody-minded faith over enlightenment and reason.”

Give Hitchens some credit: while he ultimately blames the Jews and Judaism for all ostensible “faith oppression” (how very Voltairean of him, blaming the Jews and Judaism for all types of theocentrism) at the very least, he leveled equal opprobrium at all faiths, unlike many of his erstwhile liberal colleagues who never forgave him for siding with the GOP in the second Gulf War, or maybe even for pegging the beginning of the reign of Islamist terrorism to Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa on Salman Rushdie.

However, while Hitchens’ aforementioned erstwhile comrades-in-arms never forgave him for his abandonment of progressive tenets vis-à-vis the obligation to grant succor to certain non-Western faith prerogatives no matter how reactionary or violent, they certainly have maintained agreement with his rather dire assessment of Jews and Judaism, especially the nominally Jewish progressives who would certainly find much in common with Hitchens’ Judeophobic sentiments.

Ironically, as Yoram Hazony details in his “The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture”, the “Athens” that Hitchens for all intents and purposes worships (despite—or perhaps because of—the near certainty that Hitchens himself would violently disagree with the characterization) held itself to be a genuine tradition with oracular foundations, while prophetic Judaism was disdained as overly tied to reasoned argument and insufficiently revelatory bases.  Thus, Hitchens and his cohorts find themselves in the unique position of being more self-righteous “religious” advocates than the ostensible theological reactionaries they decry, even if either too obtuse to realize it or too disingenuous to admit it.

Ergo, the Hellenizers of the Chanukah story, who are often viewed as more “open-minded” than their Maccabean counterparts, turn out to not only have been as imperialist as their newly found Greek allies and dually treasonous in both political and theological terms, but also similarly obtuse and/or disingenuous: either they were dumb enough to think that hybridizing Judaism and Hellenism was a salient option; or, more likely, they already knew that what their distortion was very much as faith based—if not more—than the faith of their fathers they felt compelled to abandon, but they needed a marketing ploy to convince some of their brethren to join them in their quislingery.

Unfortunately, it worked: Chanukah is as much a lament as a celebration, as it was the first Jewish civil war where the battles involved a sizable cohort of own openly joining up with our oppressors.  Recent current events indicate that this “tradition” persists, particularly with regard to those of our faith who either try to marry Judaism with progressive tenets which present as more “modern” or “advanced”, but which everyone knows are considered even more inviolate than the most reactionary theological catechisms by their adherents and promulgators.

One need not list all the usual suspects of those professing to be of our faith whose primary allegiance until death (usually yours, not theirs) is ultimately intersectionality (they know who they are).  However, the pattern in most evident when they proclaim all antisemitism to be right wing while either ignoring or allying with actual anti-Semites of the other wing.  In fact, one need not ignore the danger from the right or even downplay it to recognize that the threat from the left—especially the intersectional left—is more dangerous on several fronts, not least because it has culturally misappropriated and distorted otherwise sound Jewish principles and gaslit some otherwise good people into believing that they might be on the wrong side.  Again, make no mistake: they are more “religious” about intersectional “principles” than the most Ultra of the Orthodox.

Three recent events in the run up to Chanukah should serve as red lines vis a vis with-us-or-against-us, Jews or Intersectionellenists: finally including Jews under Title VI protections that didn’t cover them up to now; the UK’s resounding electoral repudiation of Jeremy Corbyn (and hopefully, eventually, his allies in the US); and the revelation of victim blaming from “civil rights” quarters where the terrorist perpetrators of the Jersey City massacre are excused for the atrocity.  The choice is certainly binary now, if it wasn’t before.

Oh, and Happy Chanukah, Mr. Hitchens.

They probably told you in Hell the oil they boil you in lasts for only one day.

It lasts for eight.

About the Author
Jon Taub is an ex-Upper West Sider, now-married Riverdalean who has two MA's, plays three instruments, and consults for biostartups.
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