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Sunday, December 12, 2004

the modern day maccabees

here's a thought that occurred to me a few years ago, and which i've never seen expressed in public.

take the maccabees. this time of year, jews celebrate their exploits. in some ways, they're considered the archetypal jewish warriors. they are lionized among the zionized. last time i was on an organized tour of israel, tales of the maccabees' military exploits were some of the biggest highlights of the trips. our tour guide would draw the connections between the battles of the maccabees and other historical battles in the land, from the days of joshua to the israeli occupation forces in modern times. the IOF are supposed to be the maccabees of today, combining bravery, fierce loyalty to the jewish people, and brilliant military tactics to secure smashing victories against the enemies.

but of course, the IOF are not the maccabees of today. the maccabees were not the army of a state, but an informal guerilla grouping of jews living under greek occupation, who succeeded in kicking the occupier out of their country. the IOF, of course, is a proper state army whose main function is to enforce an occupation. the two could hardly be more opposite.

the present-day analogue of the maccabees is hamas: an informal guerilla army, militant and strongly rooted in the community, bravely - and brutally - resisting an occupation by any and all means. like the maccabees, hamas is a religious fundamentalist organization seeking to impose religious rule once it gains power.

there are, of course, differences: the maccabees were overzealous in their battle against assimilation, often killing assimilated jews. hamas does nothing of the kind, and has a declared policy of tolerance towards all palestinians and a policy of cooperating with other militant palestinian organizations. similarly, hamas has shown itself willing to make pragmatic concessions short of its maximalist demand of an islamic palestine - in particular, it has indicated that it would support the two state solution that the whole world except israel and the US supports. one cannot imagine the maccabees making such compromises.

but still, hamas remains the closest analogue to the celebrated maccabees. i would be interested in seeing the reactions of people to this analysis. not just of the right wing zionists who lionize the maccabees while despising hamas, but of anyone who dismisses hamas as just an extremist terrorist organization, without recognizing its value.

and no, i'm not suggesting that we set up an eight day long holiday to celebrate hamas.


Yesh Gvul
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