President Isaac Herzog's controversial candle lighting

Herzog may have thought that lighting the first Hanukka candle in the Cave of the Patriarchs where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob are buried, would be a symbolic act of unity.

 Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrives outside Downing Street to meet Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in London, Britain, November 23, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrives outside Downing Street to meet Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in London, Britain, November 23, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)

The last thing that President Isaac Herzog wanted when he entered office was to be the subject of controversy.

To him, the presidency is a unifying role, a sentiment he expressed in his inauguration speech in the Knesset, and which he has repeated since.

Given that Abraham is the patriarch of both the Jewish and the Muslim people, Herzog might have thought that lighting the first Hanukkah candle in the Cave of the Patriarchs where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob are buried would be a symbolic act of unity.

What he apparently overlooked in his desire to be the president of all the citizens of Israel is that the cave is in Hebron, which in some political circles is regarded as disputed or occupied territory.

 Jews seen outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, on October 21, 2021. (credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90) Jews seen outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, on October 21, 2021. (credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90)

Meretz MK Michal Rozin tweeted that Herzog’s decision to light the first Hanukkah candle in the Cave of the Patriarchs was a mistake.

“The President should be a unifying personality,” she wrote. “[Israeli] rule in Hebron and in the occupied territories in particular, is mired in the sharpest political controversy. Settlements in Hebron around the cave are the most infuriating. It’s very sad that the president gives priority to this.”

החלטת הנשיא להדליק נר ראשון של חנוכה במערת המכפלה שגויה. נשיא צריך להיות דמות מאחדת. השליטה בחברון בכלל ובשטחים הכבושים בפרט שנוייה במחלוקת פוליטית חריפה ביותר. מבין כל ההתנחלויות, ההתנחלות בחברון סביב מערת המכפלה היא המקוממת ביותר.עצוב שהנשיא מעמיד אותה על ראש שמחתו.

The overwhelming majority of replies to Rozin were totally opposed to her views and hit back at her by attacking the Left and stating that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was correct when he said that the Left had forgotten what it means to be Jewish, and that the cave is not a matter of Left or Right politically, but is a holy place decreed as such by God.

A secular person who believes there should be a Palestinian state, nonetheless disagreed with Rozin with regard to the cave.