This is good stuff for non-Jews (as well as Jews) to read. Aron states precisely why I, too, would much rather people just come out and say "Merry Christmas," instead of the supposedly ecumenical "Happy Holidays." The so-called war on Christmas is an utterly stupid concept, except for what it reveals about the right wingers' imagination of Jews. Feh to O'Reilly and a Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends.
Personally, I too am annoyed by the PCness of the "happy holidays" greeting. Growing up as an Orthodox Jewish kid with Eastern European parents and grandparents, Christmas had a rather ominous feel to it. That was a result of the memories passed down to me of Christmas as one of the Polish pogrom seasons, where my grandparents had to live in fear of rape and murder. Despite New York's reputation, rape and murder by rampaging goyim is not a real concern for the Jews of this great city. But the site of Christmas trees nonetheless evoked a quesy feeling in me when I was a child.
That feeling along with a sense of inferiority as a minority, induced American Jews to pump up the rather minor holiday of Hanukka into something far more important than it is. A Holy Day in the Jewish calendar - a hag - is a pilgrimage specifically to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem (in an ecumenical spirit, I remind my readers that the Muslim haj is really the same word, except the pilgramage is to Mecca). Hanukka is not a pilgrimage holiday ordained in the Bible but a holiday instituted by the Hasmonean kings, whom the Rabbis despised.
Hannuka barely gets mentioned at all in the Talmud. The source of our knowledge about the holiday is the Book of the Maccabees. Unlike the Book of Esther and its associated holiday of Purim, Maccabees was left out of the official Biblical canon - the Rabbis of the Talmud no doubt would have preferred it never got written in the first place. The Rabbis' antagonism was rooted in the fact that the descendants of Judah the Maccabee, the Hasmonean dynasty that ruled Israel until the Romans crushed the Jewish rebellion in 70 CE, were in fact blood thirsty tyrants of the worst sort, who, ironically, advocated close ties to Rome and were intimately associated with the wealthy elite Sadducee establishment.
Side note: Rabbinical Judaism in its roots was an anti-establishment working class movement. Jesus probably was a leader of one of the more radical fringe groups within the overall revolutionary rabbinical movement. It was the wealthy Sadducee toadies who betrayed Jesus to their Roman masters.
Fast forward to modern day US of A, where assimilationist toadies emulating their Sadducee forbears in wanting to please their capitalist masters, had to find an equivalent Jewish shopping holiday to Christmas. Hannuka is the perfect fit in more ways than one. And they even one-upped the goyish capitalists by instituting eight days of gifts.
Considering the abysmal record of the Hasmoneans and the Sadducees, it is even more ironic that Hannuka and the Maccabees were seen as models by Zionists as a fore-runner to modern day Jewish nationalism. Hannuka is hardly as important in Israel as it is in the US, but it still is accorded far more importance than it should be....
So if you wish me a happy holiday it would take me a few minutes to even know what you are talking. The main Jewish holiday season is not December but September and October. We Jews have plenty (probably too many) holidays of our own and I for one am quite happy to concede this time of year exclusively to my Christian friends. So to all of you, Merry Christmas.
P.S. ... right-wing politics in America has long been associated with xenophobia and hatred of Jews. Intellectuals, liberals, gays, New Yorkers, Hollywood and the like, all of whom the right-wing hate so much, are used by them as code words for Jews. The neo-cons, Likudnicks and other Jews, who ally themselves with these right-wing creeps, are like their Sadducee counter-parts, stupidly aligning themselves with their true enemy. As for Bill O'Reilly, no happy holiday greetings from me to him. My fervent holiday wish for Mr. O'Reilly is that he get trapped in a store playing Christmas jingles non-stop for a full year. The horror, the horror!
I was reading Aron's blog before I even got into blogs and blogging. I rarely write about Israel/Palestine stuff here, but if you want to know where I'm at with those issues, I usually agree with Aron.