update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

US Ambassador: Chanukah light reminds us of hope

Chanukah "tells us that after trouble comes better times, and that’s the story we have to remember," said Ambassador Jack Lew.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew lights Chanukah candles in Tel Aviv, Dec. 12, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew lights Chanukah candles in Tel Aviv, Dec. 12, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew on Tuesday night in Tel Aviv paid tribute to Israeli organizations and volunteers supporting the Jewish state’s home front.

At a Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony at the Anu Museum of the Jewish People, Lew said that despite the difficulties of Israel being on a war footing for two months, the light of Chanukah “tells us that after trouble comes better times, and that’s the story we have to remember.”

He cited members of the Israel Defense Forces, the United Hatzalah and ZAKA emergency response organizations, the Healing Space mental health facility and the Civil Volunteer Organization, praising “the people of Israel coming together to show the goodness, not the darkness.”

When Hamas terrorists attacked on Oct. 7, “People represented by these organizations didn’t think twice about stepping in, risking their own lives, and saving the lives of others,” he said. “They ran in to help. They represent goodness. They remind us of the hope that Chanukah brings.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday expressed his appreciation for Washington’s support during the war, though he acknowledged that there was some disagreement between himself and U.S. President Joe Biden.

“I greatly appreciate the American support for destroying Hamas and returning our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.

“Following an intensive dialogue with President Biden and his team, we received full backing for the ground incursion and blocking the international pressure to stop the war,” he continued.

“Yes, there is disagreement about ‘the day after Hamas’ and I hope that we will reach agreement here as well,” stated the premier, vowing not to repeat the “mistake” of the Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993 and 1995.

“After the great sacrifice of our civilians and our soldiers, I will not allow the entry into Gaza of those who educate for terrorism, support terrorism and finance terrorism,” said Netanyahu.

“Gaza will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan,” he added, referring to the Fatah faction controlled by P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas.

During a stormy discussion in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee on Monday, Netanyahu said there is no way the P.A. will be allowed to rule Gaza in a post-Hamas reality.

“Oslo was the mother of all sins,” said the Israeli prime minister. “The difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is only that Hamas wants to destroy us here and now, and the P.A. wants to do it in stages.”

Israel cooperates with the P.A. against Hamas “when it serves their interest and ours, up to a certain limit,” he said, adding, “We decided a few months ago that we don’t want them to collapse so that Hamas does not rise up in Judea and Samaria as well.”

Netanyahu’s stance is at odds with Washington, whose position is that the P.A. is the best alternative.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is due to visit Jerusalem soon.

The Iran-backed Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it violently seized control of the Strip from the Palestinian Authority. The Hamas takeover prompted an Israeli and Egyptian blockade to prevent weapons smuggling.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Hamas currently holds 137 men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners captive in Gaza. Some people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.

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