Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hanukkah-Phobia at the New York Times

Czarek Sokolowski

The New York Times op-ed page has run a few pieces dissing Hanukkah. I read the first such piece in 1997 and it struck me as a one-off. In it the Times inveighs: We shouldn't assume that the "Disney" version of Hanukkah is correct; Hanukkah is "linked with nationalism and military prowess" of intolerant "traditionalist" Jews "scandalized" by "naked wrestling" that Hellenized Jews favored. Hanukkah's true story, one of tense conflict between nationalist Jews and Jewish fans of naked wrestling, is a joyless cautionary tale for modern Israelis, the piece insisted. This grim, Hanukkah-phobic op-ed was as far from yet another commentary on "Twas the Night Before Christmas" – the Times likes those – as one could get.

In 2005 the Times published "A Beginner's Guide to Hanukkah," a weird and ugly little op-ed piece by Jonathan Safran Foer, the overhyped writer of the moment. A joyless read.

Okay, I thought, Foer's is another NYT op-ed that disses Hanukkah, but by way of dissing Christmas, so maybe Times Hanukkah-phobia isn't really a trend.

But here comes another NYT op-ed piece putting the kibosh on Hanukkah spirit. "Hanukkah struggles to find a path to Jewish hearts," the author says. "It's so hard to get excited about" Hanukkah, says the Times.

What's the deal? Why all this hating on Hanukkah?

It's a holiday that involves lighting candles, eating chocolate, and playing with a top. Very good so far. Am I missing something?

The Times has annoyed me much over the years in its various screwball stances on big issues, but its Hanukkah-phobia is a bridge too far.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.
Your comment is more likely to be posted if:
Your comment includes a real first and last name.
Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.