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When will the mainstream Jewish community call us to ‘light a candle’ for the Palestinian people?

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In an email, social media and website campaign timed to coincide with Chanukah celebrations this past week, The Jewish Rohingya Justice Network (JRJN), a consortium of Jewish NGO’s lead by the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, invited “concerned Jews across the U.S. to unite in solidarity against the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of Burma” by dedicating the 6th candle on the 6th night of Chanukah to the Rohingya people. 

JRJN’s call for Jews to “illuminate” their support for the Rohingya people and share their stories for Jewish communities to hear has been endorsed by many of  the leading Jewish organizations in America as listed in a graphically compelling email campaign which calls for Jews as global citizens all too familiar with the horrors of violence against religious and ethnic minorities to not stand idly by as this senseless brutality in Burma stretches into its second year and as the crisis has forced more than 700,000 Rohingya people to flee to refugee camps in Bangladesh, leaving everything behind. 

Here is a sample of the digital Chanukah email and digital campaign complete with links to register and to download background materials for use in community celebrations of the sixth night of Chanukah.

On the 6th night of Chanukah—Erev Shabbat, December 7th—we invite you to join JCPA, AJWS, and the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network* and concerned Jews across the U.S. to unite in solidarity against the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of Burma.

Chanukah calls us to stand up against religious persecution. As Jews and global citizens, we are all too familiar with the horrors of violence against religious and ethnic minorities—and we cannot stand idly by as this senseless brutality in Burma stretches into its second year. The crisis has forced more than 700,000 Rohingya people to flee to refugee camps in Bangladesh, leaving everything behind.

Join us by dedicating the 6th candle on the 6th night of Chanukah to the Rohingya people. Together, Jews will illuminate our support for the Rohingya people and share their stories for our communities to hear.

We have prepared a short reading that will make this dedication even more powerful. We encourage rabbis, educators and all people lighting menorahs nationwide to shine a light as we work to bring an end to this crisis.

DOWNLOAD THE READING

Let’s raise a united Jewish voice in support of the Rohingya people. 

*The Jewish Rohingya Justice Network is the powerful consortium of Jewish N GOs advocating for the rights of the Rohingya. Members include: American Jewish Committee, American Jewish World Service, Anti-Defamation League, HIAS, JACOB, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish World Watch, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, T’ruah and The Union for Reform Judaism. Allies: Foundation for Ethic Understanding, Hebrew College, The Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, The New York Board of Rabbis, The Shalom Center and Uri L’Tzedek.

The campaign is notable not least because the Rohingya are Muslim which, in the age of Trump and the Muslim ban, makes the campaign a strong statement of Jewish-Muslim solidarity.  In the aftermath of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh the importance of this expression of Jewish solidarity with other oppressed and targeted people should not be underestimated. 

On the very same set of principles and facts laid out in this campaign, this same expression of solidarity can be extended to the Palestinian people who have been subjected to the same treatment.    A Jewish Palestinian Justice Network could be formed to call for dedicating the 8th candle of the 8th night of Chanukah to the Palestinian people with very very little modification. 

Here is how it would read:

On the 8th night of Chanukah—Sunday, December 9th—we invite JCPA, AJWS, and concerned Jews across the U.S. to join the Jewish Palestinian Justice Network* in order to unite in solidarity against the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people of Israel and Palestine.

Chanukah calls us to stand up against religious persecution. As Jews and global citizens, we are all too familiar with the horrors of violence against religious and ethnic minorities—and we cannot stand idly by as the senseless brutality of the Occupation of Palestine continues for more 50 years, a continuation of the crisis (the Nakba) that forced more than 700,000 Palestinian people to flee to refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, leaving everything behind in 1947 and 1948.

Join us by dedicating the 8th candle on the 8th night of Chanukah to the Palestinian people. Together, Jews will illuminate our support for the Palestinian people and share their stories for our communities to hear.

We have prepared a short reading that will make this dedication even more powerful. We encourage rabbis, educators and all people lighting menorahs nationwide to shine a light as we work to bring an end to this crisis.

DOWNLOAD THE READING

Let’s raise a united Jewish voice in support of the Palestinian people. 

*The Jewish Palestinian Justice Network is attempting to form a powerful consortium of Jewish NGOs advocating for the rights of the Palestinians.  We Invite the following to join us as Members: American Jewish Committee, American Jewish World Service, Anti-Defamation League, HIAS, JACOB, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish World Watch, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, T’ruah and The Union for Reform Judaism. Allies: Foundation for Ethic Understanding, Hebrew College, The Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, The New York Board of Rabbis, The Shalom Center and Uri L’Tzedek.

When accessing the download links in the JRJN (AJWS and JCPA) campaign in solidarity with the Rohingya one finds historical background information and commentary to be read aloud when lighting the Chanukah candles on the 6th night.  The same material is easily adapted to honor Palestinians on the 8th night.  Here, in part, is a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison for the two nights:

Rohingya on the 6th night

We invite you to dedicate the 6th candle on the 6th night of Chanukah to the Rohingya people of Burma. On Erev Shabbat of December 7th, please join with American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network and concerned Jewish people across the U.S. to speak out against the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of Burma. In August 2017, the Burmese military launched its campaign of ethnic cleansing against this long-persecuted community, forcing more than 700,000 Rohingya women, men and children to abandon their homes and flee to refugee camps across the border in Bangladesh. Our shared history of persecution calls upon us to tell their story and work toward a just resolution to this conflict.

Palestinians on the 8th night

We invite you to dedicate the 8th candle on the 8th night of Chanukah to the Palestinian people. On Sunday December 9th, please join with American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the Jewish Palestinian Justice Network and concerned Jewish people across the U.S. to speak out against the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. In November 1947 and continuing in 1948, Zionist forces including the Haganah and the Irgun (the nascent Israel Defense Force – IDF) launched their campaign of ethnic cleansing (Plan Dalet) against the Palestinian cities, towns and villages, forcing more than 700,000 Palestinian women, men and children to abandon their homes and flee to refugee camps across the border in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.  Our shared history of persecution calls upon us to tell their story and work toward a just resolution to this conflict.

Rohingya on the 6th night:

Tragically, this pattern has repeated itself throughout the ages—both for Jews and for other persecuted minorities like the Rohingya community of Burma. Just over a year ago, the Rohingya people fled genocide and now live in exile, hoping for a safe return to their land.

Tonight, as we light our candles in the relative safety and warmth of our homes, we bear witness to all those who yearn for safety and comfort. We know that all should have the right to live free from persecution and fear. No one should be forced to flee because of who they are or what they believe.

We dedicate this candle to the Rohingya people, and to all who seek shelter from persecution today.

To the refugees living a daily struggle for food, water, shelter and survival.

To the brave activists who are fighting for equality, dignity and peace.

To the children hoping for a life without fear.

May the light that we kindle tonight shine bright, illuminating our pursuit of justice. May it remind us that each of us has the capacity to dispel darkness and bring light and hope.

Palestinians on the 8th night:

Tragically, this pattern has repeated itself throughout the ages—both for Jews and for other persecuted minorities like the Palestinian community in the Palestinian territories and in Israel proper.  Over 70 years ago, the Palestinian people fled genocide and now live in exile, hoping for a safe return to their land.

Tonight, as we light our candles in the relative safety and warmth of our homes, we bear witness to all those who yearn for safety and comfort. We know that all should have the right to live free from persecution and fear. No one should be forced to flee because of who they are or what they believe.

We dedicate this candle to the Palestinian people, and to all who seek shelter from persecution today.

To the refugees living a daily struggle for food, water, shelter and survival.

To the brave activists who are fighting for equality, dignity and peace.

To the children hoping for a life without fear.

May the light that we kindle tonight shine bright, illuminating our pursuit of justice. May it remind us that each of us has the capacity to dispel darkness and bring light and hope.

Most compelling of all is the side by side comparison of the background provide by the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network on the Rohynga crisis and the historical background on the Palestinian crisis.

Here is how they compare:

Background on the Rohingya Crisis

The Rohingya people of Burma (Myanmar) have faced decades of abuse and violence at the hands of their own country’s military. This persecuted ethnic minority has been stripped of its citizenship, driven from its land and interned in camps. In August 2017, the violence escalated to ethnic cleansing, when the military began a vicious campaign of burning villages and brutally murdering people. In the aftermath, more than 700,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh—many on a weeks-long journey—carrying nothing but their children and a few belongings. Top UN officials say these atrocities bear the hallmarks of genocide. The plight of the Rohingya people echoes the persecution and violence suffered by Jews throughout history. In 2017, AJWS convened the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network, a diverse coalition of leaders from across the Jewish community to act powerfully on our promise of “never again.”

Background on the Palestinian Crisis

The Palestinian people of Israel and Palestine have faced decades of abuse and violence at the hands of the Israel military in both their own country (Israel) and in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. This persecuted ethnic minority has been stripped of its citizenship, driven from its land and interned in camps. It began in November 1947 when violence escalated to ethnic cleansing, when the military began a vicious campaign of burning villages and brutally murdering people. In the aftermath, more than 400 Palestinian Arab villages were destroyed and 700,000 Palestinian people fled to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt carrying nothing but their children and a few belongings.  Top UN officials say these atrocities bear the hallmarks of genocide.

The plight of the Palestinian people echoes the persecution and violence suffered by Jews throughout history. In 2018, we seek to convene the Jewish Palestinian Justice Network, a diverse coalition of leaders from across the Jewish community to act powerfully on our promise of “never again.”

Thanks to Bob Herbst

About Howard Horowitz

Howard Horowitz is a businessman in New Rochelle, New York. He is a member of a Reform Jewish Temple and cares about justice and peace in Israel and Palestine.

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18 Responses

  1. RoHa
    RoHa
    December 9, 2018, 9:49 pm

    “This persecuted ethnic minority has been stripped of its citizenship, driven from its land and interned in camps. ”

    Palestinians were a majority in 1947.

    How does “dedicating” a candle help? Is it like making a comment on MW?

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      December 10, 2018, 10:58 am

      @RoHa

      “Palestinians were a majority in 1947.”

      Correct!!

      Despite massive immigration of foreign Jews during the previous 25 years, indigenous Palestinian Arabs made up 69% of the population in 1947. Hence, they rejected the Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181, Nov. 29/47) for entirely justified reasons based on international law. While Jews made up just 31% of the population (90% were of foreign origin, thousands were illegal immigrants) and privately owned only between 6% and 7% of the land, the Partition Plan (recommendatory only, no legal foundation, contrary to the British Class A Mandate and the 1941 Atlantic Charter, never adopted by the UNSC) outrageously recommended they receive 56% of Palestine, including its most fertile areas in which Palestinians made up 45% of the population. 10% of Palestine’s Jewish population consisted of native Palestinian/Arab Jews who were vehemently anti-Zionist.

      In 1947, 48% of the total land area of Palestine was privately owned (‘mulk khaas’) by Palestinian Arabs. (As noted above, total Jewish privately owned land was only between 6% and 7%.) About 45% of the total land area was state owned, i.e. by citizens of Palestine and it was comprised of Communal Property (‘mashaa’), Endowment Property, (‘waqf’), and Government Property, (‘miri’.) Importantly, only 30% of the Jewish immigrants had taken out citizenship. (The British Mandate kept an extensive land registry and the UN used the registry during its early deliberations. It has in its archives 453,000 records of individual Palestinian owners defined by name, location and area.)

      For the record:
      Land ownership by Sub-district in all of mandated Palestine, 1947: Acre: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, 3% Jewish owned, 10% state owned; Safed: 68% Palestinian Arab owned, 18% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Haifa: 42% Palestinian Arab owned, 35% Jewish owned, 23% state owned; Nazareth: 52% Palestinian Arab owned, 28% Jewish owned, 20% state owned; Tiberias: 51% Palestinian Arab owned, 38% Jewish owned, 11% state owned; Jenin: 84% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 16% state owned; Beisan: 44% Palestinian Arab owned, 34% Jewish owned, 22% state owned; Tulkarm: 78% Palestinian Arab owned; 17% Jewish owned, 5% state owned; Nablus: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 13% state owned; Jaffa: 47% Palestinian Arab owned, 39% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Ramleh: 77% Palestinian Arab owned, 14% Jewish owned, 9% state owned; Ramallah: 99% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, less than 1% state owned; Jerusalem (West and East): 84% Palestinian Arab owned, 2% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Gaza: 75% Palestinian Arab owned, 4% Jewish owned, 21% state owned; Hebron: 96% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 4% state owned; Bersheeba (Negev): 15% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 85% state owned. (Village Statistics, Jerusalem: Palestine Government, subsequently published as United Nations Map no. 94b, August, 1950)

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      December 10, 2018, 3:00 pm

      RoHa,

      “How does “dedicating” a candle help? Is it like making a comment on MW?”

      It helps even more than that, RoHa. You get to keep the land, free of its owners, while cleansing your conscience snow-white. And you also get support from the MW liberals.

  2. Paranam Kid
    Paranam Kid
    December 10, 2018, 6:25 am

    The hypocrisy and double standards of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs is absolutely sickening. How can they support the genocidal apartheid activities of Israel that was started by the Zionists well before they fraudulently created Israel?

    What is the value of this so-called solidarity with the Rohingya against ethnic cleansing, when their beloved state has engaged in the biggest post-WW2 ethnic cleansing?

    How dare they come up with with a hypocritical action like this? What is their hidden agenda? What are hoping to gain from it, whitewashing Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity by saying “we Jews support oppressed peoples”?

    It is vile, depraved, sickening, disgusting, it is simply EVIL.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      December 10, 2018, 9:31 am

      And lighting a candle is going to be so very helpful! Talking loud and sayin’ nothing, as usual. Maybe they mean to say ‘we jews support the people we oppress’. Like ‘kind’ slave owners and barbara bush’s remark about the superdome being ‘nice for them;’ the homeowners who lost most everything to hurricane katrina. If americans had announced they were going to light candles for european jews during wwII – how would that have played out?

      • Paranam Kid
        Paranam Kid
        December 12, 2018, 12:37 pm

        @Marnie: so very true.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 11, 2018, 11:55 am

      “The hypocrisy and double standards…”

      Don’t worry. It’s all part of the most significant Jewish religious movement of the 21st Century. A de-proselytizing movement, based on the ability to support Zionism.

      While non-proselytizing served during the 20th, only a major de-proselytizing movement which leaves Judaism 100% Zionist will do for the challenges of the 21st. Who could refuse anything 100% of Jewish people want?

  3. eljay
    eljay
    December 10, 2018, 8:07 am

    When will the mainstream Jewish community call us to ‘light a candle’ for the Palestinian people?

    According to Zionists, the majority of people who choose to be Jewish also choose to be Jewish supremacists (Zionists).

    If the majority of Jews is the “mainstream Jewish community”, the answer to the opening question is: Never.

    If the majority of Jews is not the “mainstream Jewish community”, who is?

  4. Mivasair
    Mivasair
    December 10, 2018, 11:02 am

    Thank you Howard Horowitz. Many Jews did just that — lit candles dedicated to freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians. See https://www.facebook.com/IJVcanada as well as many Jewish Voice for Peace locations.

    Candles are symbolic expressions that need to be matched with action. We all know that.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      December 10, 2018, 2:33 pm

      air…

      Candles are symbolic expressions that need to be matched with action. We all know that

      Don’t bother to match anything, just start with the action, let’s see the results and never mind the maudlin symbolic bullshit, please.

  5. captADKer
    captADKer
    December 10, 2018, 8:30 pm

    sure- but only for those using a menorah like lulu’s.
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0018737/

  6. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    December 11, 2018, 6:23 am

    You are free to light a candle. Yes, even light a candle intended to protest the more radical’ Zionism means nothing to you Except secular Marxist and hippy ideals
    The n

  7. johneill
    johneill
    December 11, 2018, 6:24 am

    unmentioned in this article, and the jrjn reading material, is israeli weapons sales to the myanmar government.

    • captADKer
      captADKer
      December 11, 2018, 8:40 pm

      isn’t that the country whose female leader is ALSO a nobel peace laureate?

      • johneill
        johneill
        December 11, 2018, 9:15 pm

        ‘also’, in addition to what? being a woman?

  8. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    December 12, 2018, 10:20 am

    We lost your number. So sorry.

    • amigo
      amigo
      December 12, 2018, 11:01 am

      “We lost your number. So sorry.”. duhbakr

      Not to worry dubakr—we have yours.

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