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Hanukkah Celebrations Are Being Cancelled Due to Explicit and Implicit Antisemitism

A Hanukkah menorah. Photo: Pixabay

Anyone still clinging to the belief that there is a difference between hating Jews and wanting Israel to disappear now needs to explain away another inconvenient truth: Why scheduled Hanukkah celebrations across the United States, Canada, and elsewhere are being canceled.

The reason cited over and over is that Jews would not be safe, or that hosting such holiday events could imply support for Israel in its war against the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization.

A Hanukkah candle lighting that was due to take place at a music and arts festival in Williamsburg, Virginia, was canceled by the festival’s founder because the lighting of a menorah “seemed very inappropriate” given current events in Israel and Gaza.

Let us conduct a quick thought experiment: Even supposing that holding Jewish people everywhere accountable for Israel’s actions since the October 7 massacre was somehow valid, at what point did a country’s right — obligation — to defend itself and its citizens become a reason to cancel a Jewish holiday event?

Moreover, this fear of being seen as siding with Israel over Hamas has not extended to Muslim-themed events and ceremonies in the US and Canada, which continue to be held. When it comes to Muslim communities residing in these countries, there is a clear line being drawn between Hamas in Gaza and law-abiding citizens in Los Angeles, New York, Virginia, and Toronto exercising their right to worship and assemble as they see fit.

This double standard between how Jews and Muslims are treated has extended everyone. Responding to a question about soaring rates of antisemitism and the wave of cancelled Hanukkah celebrations, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre said this week: “We have seen an uptick in hate, just more broadly, in different communities — obviously, also in the Muslim community. And so, we will do everything that we can to make sure that these communities feel safe.”

The United States responded militarily to a Muslim leader with violent and genocidal intentions in 2003. For years leading up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had backed up his threats with devastating action: the taking of Kuwait, the Persian Gulf war, the Scud missile attacks on Israel, the assault on the Kurds, the oppression of his own people.

But while some of the arguments in support of that war have not stood the test of time, and even though hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, I do not recall public Christmas celebrations being cancelled across the United States after the US military entered Iraq.

The spate of Hanukkah cancellations in countries founded on the principle of religious freedom highlights the fact that antisemitism is not just another form of prejudice. What makes Judeophobia unique is its shapeshifting, sometimes even contradictory, nature.

Today the trope about Jews having an unnatural lust for money is commonplace. But in pre-Enlightenment Europe, Jewish people were reviled for the exact opposite reason: they were desperately poor.

If once upon a time Jewish people were scorned for isolating themselves from the wider society, nowadays they are lumped in with the privileged, white, oppressor majority — even though they remain a microscopically small community outside of Israel. While Jews today are treated with suspicion for their supposed lack of religiosity, history shows that they were similarly derided for living by a set of strange religious beliefs.

And whereas Jews used to be hated for being a landless people, today they are ridiculed because of the existence of Israel.

In other words, the difference between antisemitism and anti-Zionism is little more than linguistic — a phantom distinction.

Even the halls of Congress are not immune from the contradictory nature of antisemitism. Conservative lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)’s support for bizarre antisemitic conspiracies and related comments she made before being elected to the House of Representatives unleashed a media firestorm. Meanwhile Progressive Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)’s incessant demonizing of the world’s only Jewish state in the days following Hamas’ attack on Israel led to her being censured by the House.

By comparing the historic hatred of Jews to other types of bigotry, the serious risk that Jewish people around the world face is being diluted.

The cancellation of Hanukkah is only related to two factors: hatred of Jews, and fear for Jews’ safety because the threat from people who hate Jews is so real and worrisome.

Gidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer who left Los Angeles for Jerusalem in 2009. After serving in an Israel Defense Forces infantry unit from 1994-1997, Ben-Zvi returned to the United States before settling in Israel, where he and his wife are raising their four children.

The post Hanukkah Celebrations Are Being Cancelled Due to Explicit and Implicit Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters

Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition.   “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]

The post ‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed

FILE PHOTO: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaks during his transition ceremony with the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and the outgoing chief, in Jerusalem, January 16, 2023. Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via REUTERS

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.

“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.

He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”

The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.

A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”

Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.

The post IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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The post Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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