Rabbi Levi Shemtov, organizer of the National Menorah Lighting on The Ellipse Sunday near the White House, urged people not to lose hope after the Obama administration’s decision to allow the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning Israel.
Rabbi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, turned an Obama administration official’s speech about “fighting darkness with light” on its head, evoking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urging Jews not to despair about the “darkness” cast by the United Nations vote, The Washington Examiner reported.
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, The Washington Examiner wrote.
“Secretary Szubin spoke before of fighting darkness with light,” Shemtov said. “I remember those words being spoken to a particular man by the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson] many many years ago on Simchat Torah,” an annual Jewish holiday which marks the conclusion of one reading of the Torah and beginning of another.
“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 continued. “That man was Benjamin Netanyahu, and he was at the time the ambassador to the United Nations.”
Shemtov then went on to bring up Friday’s 14-0 U.N. Security Council vote. In an unprecedented diplomatic rebuke of Israel, the United States abstained Friday on a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, allowing the highly charged measure to pass.
It declares the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
“So as I know that some of us are so sad at what happened there with regard to Israel,” Shemtov said. “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.”