Israeli Rabbis Denounce Christmas Trees and Pressure Businesses To Remove Such Symbols From Public Places

220px-2002_blue_room_christmas_treeThere is an interesting controversy in Israel after the rabbinate in Jerusalem issued a letter warning dozens of hotels in the city that it is “forbidden” by Jewish religious law to erect a Christmas tree or stage new year’s parties. It is a reminder of how Israel remains a country without separation of temple and state — a source of continual tension between the government and both secular Jews and other religions. The Washington Post has referred to a virtual “war on Christmas” by some rabbis in the country.

Hotel owners have been put in a difficult position as rabbis threaten to pull certification for “kosher” establishments. Elad Dokow, a rabbi in Haifa and Israel’s premier technology university, has been one of the more vocal opponents to Christmas trees. Called “the Technion’s rabbi, Dokow ordered that Jewish students boycott their students’ union after the installation of a small Christmas tree, which he called the tree “idolatry” and a “pagan” symbol. Dokow explained that his intolerance is really not . . . well . . . intolerant: “This is not about freedom of worship. his is the world’s only Jewish state. And it has a role to be a ‘light unto the nations’ and not to uncritically embrace every idea.” It is of course about freedom to worship when you ban Christian symbols of worship.

It is reminiscent of similar attacks on Western holidays in Iran and other Islamic countries that we have previously discussed.

There is a strong secular movement in Israel but the country still gives considerable powers to religious leaders in maintaining Jewish identity and traditions.

What do you think?

70 thoughts on “Israeli Rabbis Denounce Christmas Trees and Pressure Businesses To Remove Such Symbols From Public Places”

  1. If they ae looking for a PR statement, they are indeed idiots. Involving Trump with the UN was also idiotic.

  2. The obvious solution is for the rabbis to adopt the decorated evergreen as a Jewish symbol, much as their Lebanese neighbors have adopted the cedar.
    Consider the six-pointed so-called Star of David. It has neither Biblical or Talmudic significance. Halachically, it is meaningless — except that Jews have adopted it and given it meaning.

    If Jews can adopt two interlocking triangles as the emblem of their faith and their nation (see, for example, the Israeli flag), they can likewise adopt the decorated evergreen. (The alternative would be to have rabbis denounce the Star of David as a pagan symbol and demand its exclusion from every public and private building. Also to take it off the flag. Not gunna happen, to quote GHWB)

    Halacha will be satisfied and we can all move on with our lives.

    1. The obvious solution is for the rabbis to adopt the decorated evergreen as a Jewish symbol,

      How is a contrivance like that to please people like the shmuck contingent here a ‘solution’?

      1. Tolerating pagan symbols has worked for Christianity for over a millennium. Is Judaism really that much more fragile?

          1. For one, the Christmas tree itself is a relic of the pagan religion. Enter any Catholic church this time of year, and you will see several used as decoration. But where did they come from?

            European peasants noted for centuries that every year, beginning in fall, the days grew shorter and shorter, the weather colder, and most plants died.
            But the evergreen remained green, as did the holly and the ivy. The Yule (name of the pagan hoilday) log produced both heat and light, providing comfort.

            Easter is even more imbued with pagan heritage, beginning with its name, which is from the pagan spring fertility celebration. The symbols associated with the holiday are fertility symbols: the egg and the fecund rabbit. Not the cross and the empty tomb.

            1. No, a Christmas tree is a conifer. That some German tribe 12 centuries ago used conifers for particular purposes is irrelevant to the purposes my great-grandparents had in putting up a Christmas tree.

              Easter is even more imbued with pagan heritage, beginning with its name, which is from the pagan spring fertility celebration. The symbols associated with the holiday are fertility symbols: the egg and the fecund rabbit. Not the cross and the empty tomb.

              English majors are idiots and they fancy the rest of us are as well.

              1. 1. So you disagree with the Technion’s rabbi that a decorated evergreen is a pagan symbol, because your great-grandparents were not pagans. Excellent!

                2. I’m sorry I went to an excellent high school.

              2. No philosophy, especially those of a religious nature starts at ground zero. All are invariably based on what went before. To get to ground zero one would have to discover indisputable concrete evidence. No known religion today can make that claim. Furthermore much the same ideas or basic ideas have developed in different parts of history and in different geographical regions independent of each other.

                We can suppose the beginning was the basic biological necessity of re-creation leading to family, tribe, etc. on up to nation state. Better to define the good or evil of any of the competing systems which in end inexorably leads to something called survival fo the species that has the will to live and destruction of the species that lives only to destroy. Those that fail to survive as a species deserve to die and become nothing more than historical study material. Secular or religious the end result is the same.

                As for me I hold that most systems offer only spurious safety for those who are afraid of the dark and are therefore afraid of the light of thinking and reasoning.

                Test yourself this way? Are you the least bit curious as to my religious background? Why? Have you not read the Consititution? Or having read it why are you picking out bits and pieces and disregarding the rest? Look at those choices and you will soon find out in whch areas your fear of the dark resides.

  3. Michael, whatever I post is well documented, don’t take your ignorance as proof of an impossibility.
    Meanwhile, why not provide any argument against?

    1. Once an idiot always an idiot. It’s hard to teach frijoles to be anything but mierda. Now that you finally learned to use sources try using real ones. Once a loser always a loser. But you do perform a valuable function. Without people like you good citizens will slowly forget and perhaps make the same mistakes again. The you fascists keep reminding us the stronger we get and the more you lose. Stupid is as stupid does and I can lead you arround by the nose any day and twice on Christmas.

      1. Thank you for proving once more, Michael, that ad hominem, though emotionally satisfying is no match for thoughtful, logical, factual analysis.
        Let me know when you want to finally join us in the second realm.

  4. As with any club or organization there are those who want different rules for different occasions. Religious organizations are no more than hierarchical entities based on power and status. The ignorance, intolerance, hate, discrimination, bigotry, cult behavior, murder, torture and needless war practiced in the name of a God should give everyone pause this day.

  5. They NEED the Christian tourist dollar.
    They NEED the Christian support to Congress on continuing 1/2 century of foreign aide to the welfare state of Israel.
    That being said….we venerate the Christmas tree into some kind of pagan symbol to worship. But oh,
    Is it not so beautiful to look at? 🌲

    1. Tourist receipts amount to 2% of Israel’s gross domestic product. Transfers from the U.S. government amount to 1.2%. They could fall to zero tomorrow and the result would be a disagreeable recession and some fiscal problems it would take a business cycle to work out. Israel can get along without either. (And the hit to tourist revenue from a letter of complaint from some rabbis will be diddly/squat).

  6. The Times of Israel reports the letter says, ”

    “As the secular year ends we want to remind you that erecting a Christmas tree in a hotel contravenes halacha [Jewish law] and that therefore it is clear that one should not erect [a tree] in a hotel.

    “It is also appropriate to avoid hosting parties to mark the end of the secular year. We wish to remind you that our new year occurs on the first of [the Hebrew month of] Tishrei, in an atmosphere of holiness, with the happiness of mitzva.”


    The Times reports…

    Although the letter does not threaten sanctions…

    So, the Rabbis sent them a letter telling them what’s what with Jewish law. What the @#$% do the lot of you think is the function of a rabbi?

  7. Theocrats of any religion are dangerous to humans. The more power they get the more power they want. The know no limited to their lust to control others.

    1. What’s amusing is that it doesn’t occur to you that your statement is non sequitur.

    2. You need to zoom out, I mean way, way out, so far that you can no longer distinguish who or what is in power. You will discover for each governing entity (not just religious), “the more power they get the more power they want.” Fortunately in our country we do have limits on the progressive’s “lust to control others”, but not much more than that.

  8. There is an article on NPR website this morning about “how terrible” our courts and judicial system is when it comes to sorting out fake Americans from real ones with legit “papers”. When I was a kid we termed people without papers as “WOPS”. That also was a demeaning term for Italians.
    The NPR story was a rash of apCray. The American federal government needs to post signs all over America which advises its legal citizens to get their papers in order. The NPR article was all this apCray about the Mexican born guy without papers who did not have a dime while in jail to call mom who lives nearby to come to the jail and the courtroom and show them his papers. Way into the article the author explains that the locked up guy was actually born in Mexico and momma had some cock n bull story about her just crossing over from Texas to Mexico in order to give birth. Yeah.

    So. If you can not show us your papers then why do you bitch and moan when the government decides to send you back to where you were born? NPR is a joke of a news media outlet. If they had “comments” I would be writing there.

  9. The U.S. needs to STOP all money going to outside entities until its own people are taken care of.
    Enough, of the donating to other Countries.!
    America and Americans FIRST…for a few years now.!!

  10. I guess it’s okay so long as there’s strong popular support for this kind of behavior. If people want to double down on their traditions and their identity, it’s ok, and I definitely sympathize with this desire on the part of Israelis, as their very existence is under siege.

    1. You mean no one can send an letter of advice or complaint unless there’s ‘strong popular support’ for them sending letters of advice and complaint?

  11. First they came for the gypsies and I was not one so I did not object or say anything. Then they came for….

  12. Nothing quite says Merry Christmas like a great Jew-bashing/Israel-bashing story, Turley. As we witness members of one of the world’s three major religions, around the world, threaten to target churches and places of worship with death and destruction–so much so that countries, around the globe, have needed to beef up security with contingents of heavily armed guards and barricades in order to protect the lives and safety of visitors–you choose, of all times, to run a story about how some–SOME–ultra religious figures, in a JEWISH country, find these religious symbols, of another belief system, to be offensive and contrary to their personal, core religious beliefs. Of course, as usual, you fail to mention that there are no threats of violence associated with these disagreements. Of course, as usual, you fail to mention that there have been no threats to kill infidels over these disputes. No mention that people, from around the world, have no hesitation in visiting such establishments, located in Israel, out of fear of being maimed or killed by Jewish extremists. Why would you? To do so–to mention that crucial difference that exists in the only democracy in the Middle East–would mean that you grasp the distinct difference between how those voicing a disagreement, in a civilized and democratic society, do so, and the contrasting manner in which members of the Religion of Peace are encouraged–around the globe–to kill infidels, wherever they may be, for simply shopping in an open-air market. You would have to acknowledge that those, peacefully wishing to attend mass, are named as valid targets for death. I have yet to hear or read of any, single Muslim organization, anywhere, openly and on record, demanding–in no uncertain terms–that any and all violence against infidels will not be tolerated. The mere fact that there is a controversy in Israel–yes, a controversy, a disagreement, a debate and not widespread bloodshed–is proof that the country is, in fact, a democracy. The religious right has the ability to voice its concerns and interests, doesn’t it? Societies in which those concerns and interests are silenced, with either imprisonment or death, are not democracies. While there are those, in Israel, who believe that religious decorations honoring other belief systems are, in fact, sacrilegious, there is no bloodshed to make that argument. No widespread violence to relay that concern. You, of course, never fail to disappoint by your refusal to reference such a distinct difference when you bash Israel.

    Merry Christmas, Turley. Keep up the good work.

    1. Well said bam bam. These rabbis are making a religious argument. Nothing more, nothing less. The Christmas tree represents pagan worship and there are SOME who would rather not be subjugated to this.

      Additionally, the article quotes chief rabbis who have been out of office for a few years- I wonder what else is a mistake.

      Lastly, it is scary to me how the comments which are presumably written by smart people do not seem to understand the strategic value that Israel represents to america.

      There is a reason that the aid given is so high.

    2. As a Christian, I would love to go to Israel to visit the historical sites. My church takes a group of people every year to visit Jerusalem, Nazareth, etc. I am somewhat reluctant to go, however, due to the violence in that part of the world. But I don’t fear any violence from crotchety old Rabbis, lol. Seriously, if Israel did not exist, those historical sites would quickly be destroyed by ISIS, as we have seen with the appalling destruction of antiquities in Assyria and elsewhere in the Middle East..

      1. Most muslim countries in the world celebrate Christmas. In Senegal, 95% Muslim, Christmas is a paid holiday.
        Meanwhile, there is a war against Christmas and Christianity in Israel. The Palestinian Christians are as oppressed as their muslim countrymen. Interesting that our Christian friends who are so eager to yell against perceived abuses against Christianity are silent and complicit when it comes to Israel’s war against Christianity.
        And it started ages ago:
        On May 31, 1948, a group of Christian leaders comprising the Christian Union of Palestine publicly complained that Jewish forces had used 10 Christian churches and humanitarian institutions in Jerusalem as military bases and otherwise desecrated them. They added that a total of 14 churches had suffered shell damage, which killed three priests and made casualties of more than 100 women and children.

        The group’s statement said Arab forces had abided by their promise to respect Christian institutions, but that the Jews had forcefully occupied Christian structures and been indiscriminate in shelling churches. It said, among other charges, that “many children were killed or wounded” by Jewish shells on the Convent of Orthodox Copts on May 19, 23 and 24; that eight refugees were killed and about 120 wounded at the Orthodox Armenian Convent at some unstated date; and that Father Pierre Somi, secretary to the Bishop, had been killed and two wounded at the Orthodox Syrian Church of St. Mark on May 16.

        Churches were again desecrated during the 1967 war when Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, completing the occupation of all of Palestine. On July 21, 1967, the Reverend James L. Kelso, a former moderator of the United Presbyterian Church and long-time resident in Palestine, complained of extensive damage to churches adding: “So significant was this third Jewish war against the Arabs that one of the finest missionaries of the Near East called it ‘perhaps the most serious setback that Christendom has had since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.’”

        Kelso continued: “How did Israel respect church property in the fighting…? They shot up the Episcopal Cathedral [in Jerusalem], just as they had done in 1948. They smashed down the Episcopal school for boys…The Israelis wrecked and looted the YMCA…They wrecked the big Lutheran hospital…The Lutheran center for cripples also suffered…”

        1. You’ve dumpster dived 49 years and 67 years to locate instances of irritation, and you haven’t a clue as to the implications of that.

          1. Yes, that or your address my point.
            Typical, cannot argue against a point, attack the person 🙂

        2. I assume the part in quotesd has a source? Somewhere? Someplace? Until then… it’s BS.

          You still haven’t learned hwo to do research and include cites and sources. Try again when you have made some attempt to be more thana propagandist for whomeever…

    3. Israel: At least we are not ISIS!
      The only democracy in the world where one part of the population , based on their ethnicity, does not have the same rights as the other. Where the marriage of non-Jews is not recognized.
      Meanwhile, in Gaza:

      Muslims join Christians for Christmas celebrations in Gaza
      GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Happily jumping around, Ilaa, 3, drops a couple of Christmas ornaments on the floor of Hadayana gift shop in Gaza’s al-Wahda neighborhood. Finally, she chooses the silver ornaments. Her mother, Bissan al-Qishawi, laughs at her daughter’s clumsiness as she helps her pick up the balls and Santa’s chocolates that scattered on the floor.
      “We have a Christmas tree that I bought years back. We are buying new ornaments. All I wish for is to raise my daughter to be loving and tolerant. This is why we are celebrating the occasion with Christians,” Qishawi, a Muslim, told Al-Monitor on Christmas eve.

      Qishawi’s two daughters, Ilaa and Salma, wake up the following morning to their gifts under the tree. “I want them to forget the gloominess of war and its traumatic memory,” she said.

      The Qishawis are not an exception. Many Muslim families in Gaza celebrate Christmas. Umm Fawzi, for example, who did not want to give her real name, bought a $90 tree. She told Al-Monitor, “I wanted to bring joy to my four kids and forget the woes of this year and the memories of war. At the end of the month I make sweets and my husband and I light up the tree. We are all very excited because the tree is big this year.” Umm Fawzi knows how important it is for children who grew up amid war and division to be raised to love all Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike, and to celebrate all holidays.

      Saleh Murtaja, the owner of Hadayana gift shop, said he has sold many Christmas trees to both Christians and Muslims this year. “Veiled women come along with their children, as well as Christian families. They all buy ornaments, trees and bells. However, sales turnover has been lower this year.”

      Read more:

      1. Where the marriage of non-Jews is not recognized.

        Personal status is handled in confessional courts, derivative of antique Ottoman practice. There is no civil marriage in Israel, but all confessional marriages are acknowledged in law.

        The only democracy in the world where one part of the population , based on their ethnicity, does not have the same rights as the other.

        The primary distinction in law between Arab and Jew is that Muslims and Christians are excused from military service.

          And also, from an Israeli Jew no less:
          …There is no Palestine. Israel is the only sovereign between the river and the sea. Israel controls all borders; the currency is the New Israeli Shekel and the central bank is Israel’s. Israel controls the registration of the population, the ports and the airspace. Even the Palestinian police exist to protect Israel, not Palestinians.

          Under Israeli sovereignty, Jews have all the rights. Palestinians don’t. Those of them born west of the Green Line have (almost) full rights, but they are heavily supervised and discriminated against. Some 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are “residents”: They can’t take part in general elections, they can’t purchase state land and their status can be stripped from them, either as individuals or as a collective, as Israel is currently thinking of doing to some 100,000 of them. Finally, there are the Palestinians in the occupied territories, who are under the control of the military regime, are not represented at all in the Israeli system and, for almost half a century, have been tried in military courts, under military law.
          The “conflict” is actually an internal Israeli problem – a regime that administrates different sets of rights for different ethnic groups. Instead of racial segregation, the system works according to classes of citizenship, but the output is not that different. This is not a temporary situation. It’s the reality most Israelis and Palestinians have known all their lives.

          Maintaining such a complicated, segregated system structure is a difficult task. Since most Palestinians are prevented from taking part in the system, the only way to control them is by force. Consecutive Palestinian revolts resulted in the West Bank and Gaza looking like open-air prisons, with tall walls and watchtowers. Israel has become a world leader in surveillance, targeted assassinations and crowd-control technologies.
          Since the late 1970s, almost all of Israel’s wars were waged against the Palestinians. Israel fought these wars with one goal in mind: to preserve the status quo inside its borders. Even the sole exception – the 2006 war with Hezbollah – was very much a result of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which was a war against the Palestine Liberation Organization.

          On a deeper level, the ongoing conversation about Israeli “concessions” toward the Palestinians deprives the term “rights” of its original meaning – something a person is born with. Instead, we end up in a dynamic in which Palestinian rights are becoming a political currency that is used to extract favors from the world and legitimize Israeli policy goals – the settlements being the most obvious example.
          It’s because of the diplomatic narrative that the decades-long Israeli political debate – whether or not to end the occupation – is considered a sign of a “vibrant democracy” – while every Palestinian effort to obtain some of their rights (including by going to the international institutions that were built for this very purpose ) is labeled “damaging,” “unhelpful” or simply “terror.”
          The diplomatic process is failing, because this is not a diplomatic problem. Peace talks are meaningless because the Palestinians, like every population denied its rights, have nothing to offer Israel. Not land, nor resources. They don’t even have an army that Israel needs to worry about, like Egypt did.
          That’s why support for the peace process is so low: Israeli Jews understand that any major change – either in the form of a two-state solution or the one-state solution, or any other arrangement – will actually make things worse for them. They will need to give up assets, and they will get nothing in return. So they elect the leader who promises to do everything in his power to maintain things as they are, and after he blows up the peace process – as promised – he gets reelected with an even bigger majority.

          Noam Sheizaf
          Haaretz Contributor

          read more:

          1. From Jpost:
            For the first time, the GA will be tackling the controversial issue of freedom of marriage in Israel, critical for Israel-Diaspora relations.

            I applaud this important step and am glad to be able to point to other major Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Committee [AJC] and National Council of Jewish Women [NCJW] who adopted public positions supporting freedom of marriage in Israel. I hope that many other organizations and communities will follow suit and express their support and love for Israel by advocating for freedom of religion and equality.
            …Their disregard, with few subdued exceptions, for the root issues of freedom of religion and marriage is worrisome and would likely bring about the initiative’s ultimate failure if not addressed.

            In the past month Rabbi Avi Weiss, a leading modern Orthodox rabbi and long-term advocate for Israel, blasted the Chief Rabbinate when they rejected the validity of his confirmation of a former congregant’s Jewish status for the purpose of marriage. It further sensitized him to the disgraceful status of the current state of affairs and brought him to call for freedom of marriage in Israel.

            Similarly, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in a public discussion with me at the AJC’s Global Forum acknowledged that Israel must fully recognize civil and non-Orthodox marriages and remove coercion from Jewish life in Israel.

            When such staple modern Orthodox leaders and fervent advocates of the State of Israel publicly speak of the need to include civil and a clear sign of the changing times that have not yet reached the religious and political establishment in Jerusalem.

            Do Jewish leaders seriously believe that Israel can successfully engage the next generation of Diaspora Jewry while aware that Israel would deny most of them equality, respect and recognition of their Jewish choices? Israel’s marriage laws not only refuse hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens the right to marry, but as Hiddush’s Freedom of Marriage World Map clearly demonstrates, the laws place Israel in the unenviable fellowship of the world’s fundamentalist Islamic countries as the only democracy in the world that denies its citizens this basic right.

            Hiddush recently published selections from former Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak’s forthcoming book on Human Dignity: The constitutional Right and its Derivatives, which illustrates the far-reaching damage of Israel’s religious marriage laws: “Anyone who is unable to marry according to religious law, and anyone who does not want to marry according to religious law for their own reasons, cannot marry in Israel.

            Civil marriage is not recognized in Israel. This state of affairs violates the constitutional right to marriage… the right to freedom of conscience and freedom from religion…

            [and] the right to equality.”

            These violations of basic human rights stand in sheer contrast to the desire of the overwhelming majority of Israelis. A clear majority of the Israeli public support freedom of marriage and Jewish pluralism. Hiddush’s 2013 Religion and State Index, in congruence with other studies, found 62 percent of Israelis support official recognition of non-Orthodox and civil marriages and 67% support equal recognition of non-Orthodox rabbis.

            The widely-discussed Pew study of the American Jewish population found that the intermarriage rate among American Jews is 58%.

            These families, along with thousands of Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist converts to Judaism and their children, are a crucial and active part of the Jewish fold.

            Similarly in Israel, 350,000 citizens who immigrated from the FSU and are children or grandchildren of intermarriages are not considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate. That demographic grows annually by approximately 5,000 children.

            As a result, none of them enjoy the legal right to marry in Israel altogether. Many other citizens are denied the right to legally marry in Israel due to other religious restrictions that Orthodox rabbinate imposes on them. Israelis as well as world Jewry share an interest in a sustainable solution based on freedom of religion and the cherished right to family.

            This problem is a direct continuation of the historic “Who is a Jew” battle, which at its peak, jeopardized the financial and political support of Diaspora Jewry. While the direct assault on non-Orthodox conversions was successfully countered, the efforts did not grant converts full recognition and dignity.

            None of them is fully recognized as Jewish enough to legally marry in Israel. What we need is consistent Diaspora advocacy, involvement in confronting these inequities, and partnership with fellow Israelis so as to go beyond periodic crises and guide Israel to civil freedom and inclusivity as envisaged by Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

            The cause of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish mutual responsibility is paramount for Israel-Diaspora relations.

            This effort will take more than creative programming and large financial investments like the prime minister’s initiative. It will require a bold resolution on the part of those convening in Jerusalem to tell Netanyahu openly: it is unacceptable for Israel to threaten Jewish Peoplehood by denying equal rights to more than half of the children in the American Jewish community.

            Creating an honest, long-lasting relationship between Israel and the Diaspora requires the acknowledgement that Israel is the state of the entire Jewish people.

            The Orthodox Rabbinate cannot remain the only yardstick for Jewish legitimacy. Israel must embrace its promise for “freedom of religion and conscience… and equality” as a blueprint for a modern democratic Jewish state. Only an Israel that lives up to this noble vision and celebrates Jewish pluralism will be able to continuously blossom and capture the hearts of the global diversified Jewish community to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

            1. This reminds me: If American liberals are boycotting, say, Indiana, because wedding service providers can deny services to same-sex couples on religious grounds, how can any American liberal visit Israel until loving same-sex couples can marry there?

      2. Hot diggity dog Po finally got an education and actually posted a source. Congratulations. Assuming you are the same anti USA nekulturney warrior I seem to remember.

    4. The Israeli War on Christmas…and Christianity

      Fox News and other far-right media sites and politicians have railed for years about the “War on Christmas” supposedly waged by atheists, liberals and other enemies of the Judeo-Christian tradition. But there is a far more virulent enemy of Christmas and Christianity in our midst. No, you won’t find him in a Muslim country, the demon du jour of Donald Trump and the far-right.

      Instead, you will find him in the Holy Land, Israel, the birthplace of Christianity. He is Bentzi Gopstein, leader of a Jewish fascist group, Lehava. In his past, he’s been accused of murdering an Arab couple a week after the assassination of his mentor, Meir Kahane. No charges were ever brought against him for that crime. Like white supremacists and Kahane himself, Gopstein has adopted fighting Jewish-Arab miscegenation as his political mantra.
      In the past year, Gopstein has expanded his attack to include Christianity as well. All of it. He called for the banning of Christianity and the burning down of churches and…lo and behold, a week later the Church of Loaves and Fishes was nearly burned to the ground. Though arrests were made, no one has been charged for the crime, a standard outcome in Israeli police investigations unless massive political pressure is mounted to lay charges and prosecution. Jewish terror even co-opts the security apparatus.

      This week, just in time for Christmas, Gopstein let loose his latest barrage against the Church. It’s a memorable screed called Defeating the Vampire, combining overwrought rhetoric with a largely-fictional account of Jewish history…

    5. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades at Palestinians calling for free movement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem on Friday.

      The Christmas-themed protest was held in front of Checkpoint 300, where Israeli soldiers control Palestinian movement between the occupied West Bank cities.

      Approximately 100 protesters, some of them dressed in Santa Claus suits, chanted against Israel’s military occupation and for Palestinian freedom.

      “Jesus came with a message of peace, his city suffers oppression,” one demonstrator’s sign read.

      “Santa Claus stands with the Palestinian people,” stated another.

      Half a dozen people were injured, including journalists, during the protest.

      Palestinians and their supporters highlight around Christmastime that if Joseph and Mary were to make their journey from Nazareth today, Israel’s military checkpoints and massive concrete wall would prevent them from accessing the Bethlehem manger where tradition holds Jesus Christ was born.

      Israel’s wall completely encircles Bethlehem, as do its settlement colonies, turning a once vibrant Palestinian cultural center and international tourist destination into a shuttered ghetto.

      Israel’s regime of movement restrictions imposed on Palestinians living under its military rule prevents the free access to places of worship, including the al-Aqsa mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

      Even the Holy Fire of Easter must pass through an Israeli checkpoint during the ancient ritual observed by Orthodox Christians in Palestine.

  13. I think we need to give aid to the East Side. The part of metro Saint Louis known as The East Side or East Saint Louis. To hell with subsidies to Israel or Portugal or anywhere outside the U.S.

    1. I’m with you JR, cut aid in half to everyone we have Vets who are getting less care then illegal aliens and Americans living in cardboard boxes across this nation. Let’s help others but all Americans first.

  14. If the citizens of Israel continue to allow their democratic state to devolve into a theocracy run by hardline Zionists that’s certainly their prerogative. But, as a US citizen I see no reason why such large amounts of tax dollars should continue to support this state. I would prefer, as would many other Americans, to see our tax dollars go to help our own citizens in terms of infrastructure, education, health care, etc.

    “Starting in 2019, the U.S. will give Israel $38 billion over the next 10 years – $3.8 billion per year, which is $10.41 million per day.

    This is in line with previous years. Last year the U.S. gave Israel $3.7 billion – about $10.14 per day. In other words, the new aid package amounts to an increase of around $27 million per year.”

    Israel has long received more U.S. money than any other country. Some earlier disbursements were even larger when considered in today’s dollars.

    This aid to Israel amounts to more than half of all direct military aid the United States provides worldwide.

    The new agreement will slowly phase out a unique Israeli privilege: Israel’s exception to the requirement that all U.S. military aid be used on American goods and services (40% of military aid to Israel is currently exempted). This special exemption is supposed to end by the seventh year.

    It is expected that Israel and Israeli companies will work to get around this potential loss of revenue in a number of ways:

    forming “partnerships” with American companies;
    increasing the practice of requiring that some of the systems Israel purchases from American companies include Israeli-made components;
    increasing the amount of materiel and other goods in general that the U.S. purchases from Israel, already far from negligible.

    Under the agreement Israel promises not to not ask for additional money; however, this promise includes loopholes:

    Israel may ask for more money if there is a “war.” (Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza – during which its forces killed over 2,200 Gazans, over a third of them women and children, and Palestinian resistance fighters killed 67 Israelis – was frequently called a “war.”)
    The great many Congressional representatives who are personally pro-Israel or who wish to curry favor with pro-Israel donors and media may independently vote additional money to Israel. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has already indicated that he intends to do just this.

    Aid to Israel is technically illegal, violating U.S. regulations prohibiting U.S. aid to non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. There is currently a lawsuit pending in Washington DC challenging the disbursement of this aid.

    The American public is not in favor of this aid to Israel. A recent survey showed that almost two-thirds of American voters feel that the U.S. gives Israel too much moneys. Numerous surveys over the years found that approximately two-thirds to three-quarters don’t wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine.

    The agreement is in the form of a “memorandum of understanding.” It is not a treaty and is not legally binding. American voters have the right to demand that the MoU be abandoned and that the aid end.”


    1. Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald Dec 23

      It is rather bizarre that Trump, after running on “America First,” wants to isolate US from the entire world to defend Israeli occupation…

      1. What’s bizarre is the amount of racists, sexists, and bigots in the USA pretending to be US Citizens. 27 days left to go. Better to rid ourselves of the occupation of the USA by these national and international socialists and get back to our representative democracy based constitutional republic.

        Secular Progressives? Left Wing Fasicsts is far more accurate.No matter what name they try to hide behind.

  15. I am ok with other counties having different values then us. There and many strict Muslim counties, some Christian counties, France as a aggressive secular country. One Jewish country is ok.

    Also, in the grand scheme of penalties, threatening a kosher certification is relatively mild. There are plenty of non-koseher restaurants in Israel and I see that as a busness decision.

    1. Cowardice. Some systems are better than others. Freedom to worship or not worship is an individual right and should be fought for. Anywhere and everywhere. Especially in backward theocracies.

      1. No one’s ‘freedom to worship’ is the least bit endangered by rabbi’s telling hoteliers that Christmas trees – a German custom not common elsewhere until the 19th century – are not halacha.

  16. They appear to be ultra conservative rabbis who are acting like Muslim theocrats. After what Obama did to them in the UN, these people need all the friends they can find.

    1. No, if they were acting like ‘muslim theocrats’, the hoteliers would have been arrested and jailed. They are rabbis instructing the hoteliers as to the content of Jewish law. The logic of most of the remarks here is that the rabbis should be proscribed (or at least shunned) for doing their bloody jobs.

    2. Did the thought ever occur to the seemingly “intelligent” people posting this story and those believing it that the story is simply Quasi-Fake-News? Of course not. It was posted and will be believed by those who want to make Israel appear to be against religious freedom, while, of course, the more than a dozen Islamic nations in the region are havens for religious freedom, right? But, I must admit it is a perfectly timed story for the anti-Israel crowd that thrives on Quasi-Fake-News as well as 100%-Fake-News.

      (The distinction between quasi and 100% fake-news is that the quasi has a component of truth to it, but the total effect and impact of it is still to promote falsity as truth.)

      Now, for the truth behind this quasi-fake-news. The truth is that there are some Orthodox individuals that object to seeing symbols of religions other than Judaism. And yes, they may even send letters stating their objections. This same sort of “controversy” also happens all of the time in the U.S. as well, where one group or another proposes a ban on one religious symbol or another.

      But the lie behind this quasi-fake-news story on Christmas trees in Israel is that this very issue has already been settled before by the Israeli government. It’s a non-issue. The facts are that some time ago, Hiddush — Freedom of Religion for Israel, a nongovernmental organization that fights religious coercion, filed the petition with Israel’s attorney general and the Ministry of Religious Services precisely to ensure that such religious coercion would be stopped.

      While it is true that the former regulations stated that hotels that included “references to gentile holidays” would lose their kosher food licenses, Hiddush argued that the Chief Rabbinate, the sole arbiter of Jewish law in Israel, was overstepping its authority by linking kosher certification to other rules that have no bearing on whether food is kosher. Sounds like a logical and reasonable argument, right?

      Well, the Israeli government agreed. And on March 5, 2015, in response, the Chief Rabbinate issued new regulations that ensured the freedom to exhibit religious symbols that others may disagree about.

      “The importance of our victory is twofold,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, president and CEO of Hiddush. “First, it will finally give the numerous Jewish and non-Jewish groups that visit Israel the freedom and respect which has been denied them by the Rabbinate’s extortionist demands. And second, it is an important lesson in the development of the rule of law in Israel, which emphasizes that the Chief Rabbinate is bound by Israeli law and is not above it.”

      Even that bastion of Quasi-Fake-News and even 100%-Fake-News, the Washington Post, has previously acknowledged the truth.

      I’m sorry to interrupt any of your fake-news polemics on Israel or Judaism. But please continue as before. In order for lies to successfully masquerade as the truth, repetition of them is essential, and I’m sure that each of you will do your part to promulgate the lies.

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