Have Yourself a Merry Little Hanukkah?

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?

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Hanukkah, Jewish music, Popular music

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict