Jews around the world lit candles on Tuesday night to celebrate the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which celebrates the triumph of the Maccabees, Jewish warriors, over Greek forces in 165 B.C.E. As the story goes, when the Maccabees rededicated the ransacked Temple, they only found enough holy oil to last for one night, but it miraculously lasted for eight nights. Today, Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles in a Menorah for eight nights, eating foods fried in oil, and producing Taylor Swift parody songs.
Rick Perry, who likely has trouble celebrating a holiday that requires him to count to eight, chose to celebrate Hanukkah in a less traditional way. On Tuesday, he released a statement comparing Hanukkah to the Boston Tea Party.
“It is fitting that the first night of Chanukah falls this year on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The same spirit of freedom that inspired the Maccabees to rise up against a foreign empire motivated our Founding Fathers to rebel against the Crown on that fateful night. They knew, as the Jewish people know, that the few can overcome the many, that right can defeat might, that faith can transcend persecution. No matter how vast the darkness, all it takes is one candle to spread the light.
Our Republic, like the light of the ancient Menorah, has lasted longer than anyone could have predicted. America remains a beacon of hope in difficult times for the world. And Chanukah reminds us of the power of faith to sustain a nation and ensure the security of our ally, Israel.”
Perry’s historical analogy is wrong on many levels. While Rick Perry may claim that the Maccabees and the Boston Tea Partiers were both fighting for freedom, they were really defending two completely different things. The Maccabees were fighting for the continued existence of the Jewish people. The Boston Tea Partiers were fighting for lower taxes.
In addition, for most people, the main lesson of the American Revolution is not that “faith can transcend persecution”–especially not faith in lower taxes. But for presidential hopeful Rick Perry, pandering knows no bounds. He was able to hit two birds with one stone with his Hanukkah statement, trying to appeal to both the right-wing modern day Tea Partiers and all of the pro-Israel interest groups.
It is too bad that Rick Perry no longer celebrates Hanukkah as he did in 2010, when he danced an impromptu Hora with Orthodox Jewish rabbis in the Capitol. Relive that glorious moment in the video below:
Happy Hanukkah, y’all!