It’s the holiday about killing infidels that is now celebrated as a victory of religious pluralism, the Jewish holiday with terrible songs written by Jews competing with the Christian holiday with wonderful songs, also written by Jews.
Add this to the ironies: When eight or so Jewish organizations dropped out of a Hanukkah party this year because of its associations with President-elect Donald Trump, ambassadors from Muslim countries replaced them.
The Dec. 14 marathon of Washington, D.C., Hanukkah celebrations also included a loving, if mournful, farewell delivered by President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, to the Jewish community.
A few blocks away, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Azerbaijan Embassy co-hosted a Hanukkah party at the Trump International Hotel.
Eight liberal Jewish groups said they would not attend the event because of its associations with Trump, some citing his broadsides against Muslims, Mexicans and other groups, and others questioning the propriety of making payments to a business owned by the incoming president. Some groups also objected to the association with Azerbaijan, an autocracy that scores low on the human rights index even as it becomes more friendly with Israel. Another three or four centrist groups did not attend, they said, due to scheduling conflicts.
That didn’t diminish the holiday spirit, according to some attendees: Every seat was filled, and Malcolm Hoenlein, the Presidents Conference’s executive vice president, presented 13 envoys — including seven from Muslim majority nations — with commemorative menorahs for the assistance by their countries in putting out last month’s devastating forest fires in Israel.
One remarkable presence among the honorees, given the near total breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian Authority relations, was Maen Areikat, the Palestine Liberation Organization envoy. The P.A. assisted in putting out the fires.
Meanwhile, Obama was rushed by adoring fans at both receptions, with many lamentations about how this would be the last chance to introduce their families to a president they admire.
At the White House, the president thanked his Jewish guests and said, “The story of this community and the work you continue to do to repair the world forever reminds us to have faith that there are brighter days ahead.” — jta