Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman light the first Hanukkah candle at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel on Dec. 22, 2019. Photo: Koby Gideon/GPO.

JNS.org – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman lit a menorah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday night to commemorate the first night of Hanukkah.

At the lighting ceremony, the prime minister said, “2,200 years ago, the Maccabees fought the war of liberation for the Jewish people and the Jewish faith against the antisemitic Greeks. They wanted to extinguish our faith, to stamp on our freedom, to drive us out of this land, to say that we have no right to exist.”

Modern Israel, said Netanyahu, faces enemies and decrees no less antisemitic than those of the ancient Greeks.

“We have fought against immeasurable odds, as no people has fought in history. We crossed the abyss from extinction to survival, independence and now a thriving democracy. And yet, we find ourselves now, in the beginning of the 21st century, in the year 2019, where the International Criminal Court, that should know otherwise, has set forth decrees that are just as antisemitic as the decrees of the Greeks.”

Netanyahu was referring to the recent announcement by ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that her organization intends to conduct a broad investigation of Israel for “war crimes.”

“They say the Jews do not have a right to settle in the Jewish homeland. They say the Jews do not have a right to live in the land of the Jews, in the Land of Israel. Well, we say, shame on you. The light of truth [shines] here and we will overcome you, just as we overcame other antisemites in history,” said Netanyahu.

“Pure antisemitism, that’s what the ICC has done, and we will not bow our heads,” he added.