Have Yourself a Merry Little Hanukkah?

Dec. 27 2019

While Jews wrote many of the pop-music standards that for decades have been the usual fare of Christmas albums, the newly produced Hanukkah+ is the first of its kind for the Festival of Lights. Rivki Silver writes in her review:

The album’s one and only traditional Hanukkah song is the movie star Jack Black’s acapella-meets-metal rendition of “Oh Hanukkah.” . . . Despite the variety of styles on the album, ranging from Yo La Tengo’s Bossa nova “Eight Candles” to the Watkins Family Hour bluegrass cover of Woody Guthrie, it still feels cohesive. Not to be missed is [the all-Jewish band] HAIM’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 classic “If It Be Your Will.”

For Silver, only one track struck a false note:

The great folksinger Loudon Wainwright III acknowledges that as a non-Jew, he’s out of his element. . . . His “Eight Nights a Week” is a rollicking and enjoyable ragtime swing, with oil, latkes, and menorahs, but did we really need the Christmas trees? And few listeners will appreciate the comparison of the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights to the New Testament’s miracle of the loaves and fishes. Can we not have just one little Jewish space for ourselves?

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Hanukkah, Jewish music, Popular music

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela