Jeremy Corbyn has described the Chanukah story as the “first national liberation struggle in recorded history” in a message to mark the first night of the Jewish festival.
In a pre-recorded broadcast he says, “as you light candles in the darkest days of the year, I remember that this is a festival celebrating the first national liberation struggle in recorded history.”
Chanukah commemorates the Jews’ victorious revolt against the Seleucid empire over 2100 years ago.
The Islington MP continues: “A small band of Jews inspired by their history of rebelling against slavery held out against an empire defending their people and traditions against oppression and injustice.”
“Later, Hillel was to encapsulate the spirit of Chanukah when he said ““If I am not for me, who is for me; and if I am only for myself, what am I. And if not now, when?”
“So along with the celebrations, we remember the history of Chanukah and in that spirit we resolve to defeat oppression.”
2016 has been a tumultuous year for the Labour Party in its relatioship with the Jewish community.
The party conducted inquiries into alleged anti-Semitism in both Oxford University’s Labour club and across the party as a whole, although the latter concluded the problem was not endemic.
Earlier today Corbyn used his Christmas message to highlight the problem of homelessness in Britain and reflected on the theme of hope.