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Is history cyclical or linear?

In 167 b.c.e. Antiochus IV, King of Syria, attempted to ban Jewish practice, defiling the sacred Temple altar in Jerusalem, and subjugate all the Jews. But a family of priests, Mattithias and his 5 sons, rebelled against the Syrian Greeks. In a 3 year guerilla war they pushed the Syrian Greeks off of the Temple Mount. In 142 b.c.e, the Syrians finally withdrew from Israel militarily, and the remaining Maccabee brother, Simon, became High Priest, establishing the Hasmonean Dynasty until 63 b.c.e. when Rome subjugated Palestine.

With the Rededication of the altar in 165 b.c.e. (hanukkah means dedication), over 8 days of sacrifices and ceremony, they reestablished the sacred sacrificial system, once again lighting the 7 branch menorah in the Temple. They ordained that every year the Jewish people would light a menorah to commemorate the restoration of the sacred covenant with God, establishing the holiday of Hanukkah, commemorating the first war for religious freedom in the world.

When in 1895 Alfred Dreyfus of France was convicted of spying for Germany, a crime everyone knew he did not commit, a reporter from Vienna, Theodore Herzl, decided that were there a Jewish State in the world he could bring antisemitism, like the Dreyfus Trial, to an end. A Jewish State would protect all Jews, who could live freely and openly as Jews in the Jewish State.

Herzl published his book, Der Judenstaat, and in 1897 called the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, to plan an independent Jewish State in the Ottoman Empire, in the Syrian southwest province that was once known as Judea.

Herzl died in 1904, but his work was carried on by waves of Jews, mostly from Eastern Europe -- people like David Gruen, who later became David ben Gurion -- to establish a Jewish Homeland in their biblical home of the Jewish people, to be known first as Palestine and later as Israel.

Those Jews bought land through the Jewish National Fund. They established socialist farms called kibbutzim, and lived in cities and towns. By 1920 or so somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 Jews emigrated to reestablish a homeland for Jews, where Jews could live freely without the scourge of antisemitism to plague their lives.

In 1891 the Interior Minister of Russia, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, developed a plan to end "the Jewish problem" in Russia: 1/3 would die, 1/3 would emigrate, and 1/3 would assimilate (antisemitism). Most of the immigrants to the Jewish Homeland came from Eastern Europe, the largest Jewish community in the world. They were not sent by anyone. They left to avoid persecution and live Jewish lives. Most of Russia's Jews emigrated to the U.S., some to Palestine, and those who remained were either murdered in the Holocaust or persecuted in Russia and the Soviet Union (antisemitism).

On May 15, 1948, after a vote in the new United Nations to establish Jewish and Palestinian States in the British Mandate of Palestine, the first Prime Minister of Israel proclaimed the new Jewish State of Israel, and they were immediately attacked by all of the surrounding nations: Egypt (who assumed control of the Gaza Strip), Jordan (who assumed control of the West Bank, usurping the new Palestinian State), Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Jews had been banned by the British from immigrating into Israel from 1939 until they withdrew in 1948. The Palestinian State was completely rejected by its inhabitants and the surrounding Arab nations. Jordan controlled the West Bank from 1949 until 1967 and could have unilaterally established a Palestinian State or some Palestinian entity. On his way to make peace with Israel in 1951, King Abdullah was assassinated in the Al Aksa Mosque. (as Anwar Sadat would later be assassinated in Egypt for making peace with Israel, and Yasser Arafat avoided by not signing a peace agreement with Israel at Camp David with Pres. Bill Clinton)

So with this Hanukkah, with Israel at war with an Arab Muslim entity which seeks to destroy the Jewish people in their own land, is history cyclical or linear? Does history repeat?

The war of the Hasmonean rebellion against the Syrian Greeks brought the Jewish people together as a nation. This war of the Jewish people countering the slaughter of Jews by Hamas has brought the Jewish people together as a nation. Both wars cost too any lives, as wars do. But both wars are being fought to enable the Jewish people to practice Judaism as a free people in their land, a rededication (Hanukkah) of the nation.

Let there be peace.


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