Points of Views
From Jerusalem
Points of Views
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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


“Tonight, the seventh night of Chanukah, we saw with our own eyes the meaning of ‘darkness we shall expel’ [1].
We arrived at an interfaith event [2] to light the seventh Chanukah candle, organized by Tag Meir [3] and the of 'Tzion' community [4], at the 'First Station' [Commercial Center] in Jerusalem.
Ilana Nelson from the 'Tzion' community and Father Alberto Franciscan of the Catholic community of Hebrew speakers jointly opened the event. There were many people wearing Kippahs [5] in the crowd, from different communities and streams [of Judaism]. Both traditional and secular [Jews]. There was also a group of Muslim Arabs, but I do not know whether they are religiously observant. Some of them are Israeli citizens, and some of them I understand are East Jerusalemites and Palestinians from the territories.
Beyond the political dispositions of everyone, it is clear to me that whoever comes to participate in such an event is in favor of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect without violence.
Well… only a few minutes after the event began, the infamous Baruch Marzel [6] appeared, walking to the stage in an attempt to disturb and spoil the event even though there was no physical violence on his part. Young boys also turned around to the crowd and shouted ‘Helenizers!!’[7] In an attempt to insult the crowd and spoil the event.
At the back was a group of the disgraceful Lehava Organization, headed by Gopstein [8], with two large flags and a sign. Security officials prevented them from reaching the event itself.
It was fascinating to see how the organizers and participants did not flinch and did not react angrily when they saw Marzel walking ostentatiously by the stage. The good music and singing were enough to set the tone. The Arab-Jewish orchestra that played was much stronger than the cries of Lehava. At some point, the dancers even surrounded Marzel and danced around him.
Eventually, Marzel left.
He returned later to the front but was ignored.
The celebration, which included short speeches by pairs of Arabs and Jews, continued long after the departure of the Lehava crowd.
I am not naive… I have harsh criticism of the ‘other’ side… I also see how the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, that although portrayed in the world as moderate in the wake of their speeches in English, incite and educate towards hatred in Arabic.
Of course, I will not for a moment sympathize with terrorism. Terrorism deserves every condemnation, in every situation.
But tonight, in an event in favor of interfaith understanding and dialogue, when the extreme racists of Lehava were standing in front of the participants, I knew exactly on which side I belonged.

Happy Holidays!”

– Jana Beris

0202 Editor’s Notes:
[1] A quotation from a popular children's song about Chanukah which describes the victory of the light over the darkness – one of the themes of the holiday.
[2] The event referred to was an interfaith candle-lighting event to celebrate Chanukah.
[3] Tag Meir Forum is an organization whose mission is to (as self-described): “educate for tolerance and empathy, and create public events to raise the voice of those committed to democratic values.”
[4] Tzion Community: a religious congregation that holds egalitarian prayer services in the Baka neighborhood.
[5] Kippah: the head-covering (sometimes translated as 'Yarmulke') worn by religious Jewish men.
[6] Baruch Marzel: A right-wing activist and politician who previously failed to win enough votes to pass the minimum vote threshold to enter the Knesset.
[7] Hellenizers: refers to the Jews of ancient times who assimilated into Greek culture. The term is used in the pejorative sense and refers to Jews who mix non-Jewish cultural and religious elements in their Jewish celebrations.
[8] Lehava Organization: ‘Lehava’, meaning ember or flame in Hebrew, an acronym for Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land, is an anti-assimilation organization, dedicated to preventing personal, romantic, or business relationships between Jews and non-Jews, particularly Arabs. Lehava is headed by Bentzi Gopshtein summoned earlier in November 2017 for a hearing by the Israeli prosecution, ahead of a potential trial on counts of inciting racial hatred and violence.

#Interfaith #Protest #Chanukah תג מאיר: אור במקום טרור