Jews May Get Frosty Feelings as Obama White House Cuts Hanukkah Party Guest List in Half

With the holiday season approaching, the latest liberal fashion in media bias by omission will be papering over any hard feelings about White House holiday celebrations. Already (as Patrick Gavin of Politico has pointed out), the Jerusalem Post reported that the guest list of the annual White House Hanukkah party is being shrunk in half, from 800 to 400.

Hillary Leila Krieger wrote "Though several Jewish leaders expressed understanding for the economic and other reasons behind the cut, they acknowledged that it would likely help feed feelings in some quarters of the American Jewish community that the White House is giving them the cold shoulder."

It comes as a different attempt at outreach to Jews -- an Obama appearance before the General Assembly of North American Jewish Federations last week -- was cancelled so Obama could attend the Fort Hood memorial service. Krieger added:

"I don't know which people will be more upset about," said one Jewish leader, comparing the disappointment of those who had expected to see Obama speak with those who wouldn't be getting an invitation to the Hanukka celebration.

Given the current climate, the Jewish official continued, "The pressure on the White House to have the right people at the Hanukka party is going to be enormous."

A White House aide said the number is roughly the same as Bush invited in 2001, although that number doubled over his two terms. The Obamas want to have room for "natural growth" of the list over the next few years, he said.

But Bush faced lower demands for tickets. While there were only three Jewish Republican members of Congress last year, there are ten times as many Jewish Democrats, and the number of Jews with strong ties to the Democrats is a larger group, as well. Krieger added:

Still, the Jewish official said, "They want it to be more intimate," explaining that "the president and Mrs. Obama do not want to sit around for 800 photos."

Another major concern was cost, with the Obamas seeking to avoid the appearance of lavish holiday parties during the recession. The need to serve kosher food only increases the cost.

"A lot of people who were invited year after year will not necessarily understand that there's a cost with having kosher food, and not understand why they're not getting their photo with the president," noted one Jewish leader.

And despite the expense of kosher food, another said that cutting down the guest list could be viewed as a snub by the Obama administration at a time when many American Jews are sensitive to White House slights.

One leader seemed upset at the idea of complaints against the Obamas. Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Orthodox Union of Hebrew Congregations, insisted: "As we know from Biblical times, we Jews are very good at complaining," he said. "People shouldn't complain."

(HT to Goyish Ganache)

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis