The Jewish rabbi tasked with leading the national menorah lighting ceremony, which was held just a short distance from the White House, made a defiant statement on Sunday by trashing President Barack Obama's alleged involvement with the passage of an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations last week.
According to the Washington Exmainer, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who is the executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, turned a speech by an Obama administration official on its head to declare that Jews and friends of Israel should not "despair" over the United Nations Security Council resolution passed last week.
That resolution bans Israel from building settlements in land claimed by the Palestinians. The resolution passed, at least in part, because Obama told the U.S. delegation not to veto it — a break from U.S. policy toward Israel. In a dramatic back and forth since the Security Council vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Obama administration of being involved with the drafting of the resolution itself — a charge which the Obama administration denies.
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Shemtov spoke after remarks by Adam Szubin, acting treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, and the Obama administration's representative Sunday at the event.
Szubin delivered a short speech focusing mainly on the significance and symbology of candles and light as they pertain to Hanukkah and later helped to light a 30-foot menorah.
"Secretary Szubin spoke before of fighting darkness with light," Shemtov said during his speech. "I remember those words being spoken to a particular man by the Rebbe many many years ago on Simchat Torah," which is an annual Jewish holiday.
"The Rebbe told him you are working in a place where there is great grief and darkness, but remember that in that place of darkness, you can only counter it by lighting a candle. By creating light," Shemtov added. "That man was Benjamin Netanyahu, and he was at the time the ambassador to the United Nations."
Shemtov went on to tell the crowd that despite the apparent despair created by Obama's decision, fighting darkness against Israel with more darkness will bring no good to anyone.
"So as I know that some of us are so sad at what happened there with regard to Israel," Shemtov said, according to the Exmainer. "We must remember that the way to counter any darkness, any disappointment is not with harsh rhetoric, not with anger, but when we create light, the darkness dissipates."
There has been much outcry in the U.S. over Obama's decision over the Christmas weekend from both sides of the aisle. However, Netanyahu has made it clear that he has no intention to abide by the U.N. resolution and has already begun to act accordingly, summoning his top ambassadors to Jerusalem to form a "plan of action."
Netanyahu's government has also said they have "ironclad" information that proves Obama helped "craft" the anti-Israeli measure.
In the days following the passing of the resolution, Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) have also called for all U.S. funds to be stripped from the international body until they reverse the security council's resolution.