After Biden, Kamala Harris, former president Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo all released their annual Hanukkah messages, Americans noticed one glaring omission – none of them actually mentioned Jews.
As Hanukkah begins, Jill and I send our warmest wishes to everyone celebrating in the United States and around the world. We know things look a little different this year, but we hope these next eight nights are filled with family, love, and light. Chag Sameach!
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 10, 2020
Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating around the world. This year has tested us all, but it's also clarified what really matters. May the lights of the menorah remind us to cherish the blessings we have and offer glimmers of hope. From my family to yours, Chag Sameach!
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 10, 2020
From our family to yours, happy Hanukkah! May this season of celebration bring you light and joy out of darkness. https://t.co/eN7J1QSIJY
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 10, 2020
The conservative Daily Wire website observed that “every message followed the Democrats’ pattern of erasing religion from the festival,” and criticized the language used as “vague and irreligious.”
The outlet’s Ian Haworth wrote that it seems to be an “intentional” removal, before accusing Democrats of not caring about religion unless it can be utilized “to achieve their political goals.
Some social media users shot down Haworth’s claim, pointing out that Harris is “married to a Jewish man” – Doug Emhoff – and that she has Jewish stepchildren, while others agreed that the language used was an intentional “great push to remove religion from religious holidays.”
Ummm. Kamala is married to a Jewish man. Her step children are Jewish too.
— Meryl Lane (@MerylLa59255340) December 11, 2020
The great push to remove religion from religious holidays…
— President-Elect 🇺🇸Katastic🇺🇸 (@brmkwantstruth) December 11, 2020
But Democratic figures do have a history of also omitting the names of people celebrating other religious holidays.
Some years, Obama did mention Jews in his social media Hanukkah message, however in others he simply addressed “everyone celebrating.” In 2013, Obama wished Muslims specifically a blessed Ramadan and Eid.
Biden’s history of holiday messages has followed a similar track – sometimes mentioning those who celebrate the holiday by name, and at other times using a more generic greeting. Like Obama, he addressed Muslims specifically in his Eid post earlier this year, but there have been times when he did not – last year being one example.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 31, 2020
The pattern of addressing holiday messages to specific religious followers some years but not others was also found in Pelosi, Schumer, and Cuomo’s social media history, though when they didn’t, they almost always used the similar, vague language to one another. It should be noted that Christmas messages were nearly never specifically addressed to Christians by any of the politicians.
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