War on Christmas Just Got More Fierce

In America, Jews are a relatively small minority, so even observant Jews tend to be supporters of secular politics. In Israel, though, Jews get the opportunity to act like the Christian right bullies we know so well here in the states. In this case by taking the American right’s made-up concern about a “War on Christmas” and seizing the opportunity to wage war on Christmas:

Christmas in Bethlehem (cc photo by Chadica)

Christmas in Bethlehem (cc photo by Chadica)

The “Lobby for Jewish values” this week began operating against restaurants and hotels that plan to put up Christmas trees and other Christian symbols ahead of Christmas and the civil New Year.

According to the lobby’s Chairman, Ofer Cohen, they have received backing by the rabbis, “and we are even considering publishing the names of the businesses that put up Christian symbols ahead of the Christian holiday and call for a boycott against them.” […]

The Jerusalem Rabbinate also works each year to ensure restaurants and hotels receiving kosher certification from the Jerusalem Religious Council do not put up Christian symbols.

I wonder how Christian does your symbol need to be before you get deemed unkosher. Obviously, a crèche is very Christian. The Christmas trees are pagan in origin, but the Christians have really appropriated the iconography very strongly. Santa Claus, however, seems much more like an icon of shopping than of Christianity (then there’s the weird Dutch version). Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is definitely about Christmas, but also a triumph of Jewish cultural achievement.