Susanna Kokkonen
Speaker on anti-Semitism; the Holocaust; Persecution of Christians

Fight Never Stops For Light

Chanukah 2021. Credit: Susanna Kokkonen

Wishing everyone a Meaningful Chanukah. It is not a customary way of greeting, because we are not living in “customary times”. Meaningful, I think, is appropriate so we may understand the lessons of the past. Having said that, Happy Chanukah, too!

Long time, no see. It is not that there was nothing to write about. Rather – things have been moving in such speed, and so much has happened, that it has been over-whelming. Having said that, it is high time, at the time of Chanukah, to recall. It is time to remember that in this world of ours, fight never stops. There is light and we need to spread it.

Yesterday, at my local church in Helsinki, we light the first candle. I was privileged to tell the story of Chanukah, which, to all of us, must be a source of inspiration. An out-numbered group, hiding in caves, lack of weapons, facing an army led by a ruthless tyrant. An attempt to include everyone under a banner that was as strange as it was unholy. Rules and regulations based on insanity. No Judaism allowed. Hellenism encouraged. Worshiping beauty. Judaism will always be a lightning rod to haters. But, light must conquer darkness.

Just a few days ago, another antisemitic initiative was voted on at the Helsinki City Council. It is not antisemitic because I say so. Rather IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) has a definition, which seems to indicate that this motion is antisemitic. There is excessive focus on Israel. Israel is judged differently. The motion, aiming at forcing city officials to inspect companies and their ties to various Israeli companies, fully complies with hallmarks of BDS and Israel Boycott. There is the customary talk about occupied territories. It seems to me weird because in this country foreign policy remains firmly in the hands of the president and the government.  That the City Council (in a city with many everyday issues) wants to start a campaign like this, is a crying shame. Sadly, very little shame is left anywhere when insanity rules. Has the City Council similar motions against other nations? What about those with abysmal human rights records? Nope. Only Israel.

It seems strange to me too that after years of fighting, when Israel now has new Peace Accords in place, this happens. Where is the rejoicing over peace? Why not support the new Middle East instead of going back to the old? What kind of mentality is this? The good thing is that many have reacted and spoken out. Israel’s friends are not silent.

That goes to show that the fight, as it was, still continues. Those, who hate, will never be satisfied because the heart filled with hatred always needs more fuel. But, we need to be bearers of light. Despite everything, and especially in hard times, light presents moral clarity and courage. Let us be like them. The Maccabees.

About the Author
Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, originally from Finland, lived in Israel for twenty years. She has a Doctorate in Holocaust Studies. She has pioneered Jewish-Christian relations including at Yad Vashem, as the Director of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. She travels around the world speaking in churches, synagogues and civic gatherings. Her book 'Journey to the Holocaust' is available in Finnish, Swedish and English translations.
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