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December 11, 2006

Seattle-Tacoma Airport Removes Christmas Trees

by Doug Mataconis

I’m not one to fall into the whole “war on Christmas” meme we see repeated this time each year, but this story just strikes me as ridiculous:

SEATAC, Wash. — All nine Christmas trees have been removed from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport instead of adding a giant Jewish menorah to the holiday display as a rabbi had requested.

Maintenance workers boxed up the trees during the graveyard shift early Saturday, when airport bosses believed few people would notice.

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who made his request weeks ago, said he was appalled by the decision. He had hired a lawyer and threatened to sue if the Port of Seattle didn’t add the menorah next to the trees, which had been festooned with red ribbons and bows.

“Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season,” said Bogomilsky, who works in Seattle at the regional headquarters for Chabad Lubavitch, a Jewish education foundation.

Repeat after me folks. Putting a Christmas tree up is NOT an endorsement of religion.

Update 12/12/06: The Christmas Trees have returned to SeaTac.

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17 Comments

  1. Absolutely ridiculous. Decisions like these add to the ongoing rift for the Jewish community. There is no religious affiliation with a christmas tree and would not equalize or “balance” the season out. It is not a cross, it is a pine tree. There is no symbol of worship for a pine tree. Absolutely ridiculous

    Comment by Daniel Smith — December 11, 2006 @ 5:40 am
  2. If you are calling it a Christmas tree, that would be a statement regarding a specific religous observance (the birth of Christ).

    I think the airport was more worried that they would have to pay for more holiday decorations as befits an international venue.

    Comment by Eric — December 11, 2006 @ 5:42 am
  3. They’re just trees, I think. If he wanted that Menorah thing up, he might as well went about telling everyone who has a tree in their living room to do the same. Either or, it would’ve created a silly incident where you’ve have muslims, buddists, etc wanting to put up their own thing because “He could do it, why can’t I?”

    -Zi

    Comment by Zi — December 11, 2006 @ 6:17 am
  4. This is a horrible discrace. Seriously “Christmas” trees have been an American staple forever. I really doubt that airports in nations with a majority of Jewish background is putting up Christmas Trees. If this guy did not want to be known as the Seattle grinch then he should have just done what everyone else does in an airport, get your lugage and leave – After all I don’t raise a stink when I have to pay more for my parking because the smoking lounges need to be remodeled.

    Comment by Nate C — December 11, 2006 @ 7:16 am
  5. Maybe Mel was right?

    Comment by Robert Lovette — December 11, 2006 @ 8:10 am
  6. The person with the problem here isn’t the Rabbi, it’s the officials at SeaTac who overreacted.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — December 11, 2006 @ 8:15 am
  7. All I can say is it offends me to not have the xmas trees at the airport or any where else someone might want one

    Comment by Joe Hillhouse — December 11, 2006 @ 10:59 am
  8. You know, if he had simply “suggested” that they add a menorah, I would think that they might have done so. This statement, IMHO, is a wonderful spirit of the season:

    “Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season,”

    Of course, this kind of ruins the whole thing:

    He had hired a lawyer and threatened to sue if the Port of Seattle didn’t add the menorah next to the trees, which had been festooned with red ribbons and bows.

    Threatened to sue? Yeah, that kinda blows the whole “spirit of the holiday” theory out of the water. What a putz.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — December 11, 2006 @ 11:27 am
  9. the newspapers today reported that the Port will deal with guidelines after the holiday season when travel has slowed down. It would have helped if Rabbi had offered to supply the menorah for this year.

    Comment by L'Nae — December 11, 2006 @ 11:42 am
  10. Hi:

    The Menorah is a symbol used by the Jews to commemorate the overthrow of the Syrians.

    Why should the People of the United States Commemorate the overthrow of the Syrians?

    The Jews should be more concerned about the Zionist inhuman treatment of the Palestine people.

    100% American Citizen

    Have a good day

    Tony

    Comment by Anton Grambihler — December 11, 2006 @ 11:54 am
  11. The Christmas tree is a symbol of the most important holiday for the entire civilized world, regardless of religion.
    People who are offended by the symbol of love and giving (and good business) should be allowed to live in more hostile countries.
    People who threaten to sue over Christmas tree displays should be deported, along with their lowlife lawyers.

    Comment by Stan — December 11, 2006 @ 12:21 pm
  12. As a man with little opinion when it comes to political correctness, and social issues, hearing that Christmas trees were removed from the airport due to its “unfairness” to other religions was appalling. I am a well-traveled man and have even traveled over seas during the holiday season. What you see are symbols of their beliefs and traditions. Which they are entitled to because it’s their country, with their beliefs, which we and noone else, should have the right to change. People are attracted to our country because of our freedoms. When people come to our country and cause us to change our policies, and traditions, its causing us to lose our freedoms. I can’t believe we cant even put up a tree, a tree that symbolizes America’s tradition of Christmas. We are losing our culture to other cultures. We are America! If we have nothing to set our country apart from other countries, what is America?
    I understand that others simply just want their symbols to be viewed, and it is fully understandable. Unfortunately, it causes more harm than good. This is simply just America.

    Comment by Joshua — December 11, 2006 @ 12:29 pm
  13. Build a bridge and just get over it. Is this really news? This town is full of homeless folks trying to find someplace warm and dry for a few hours and we seem more concerned about some plastic trees in an airport. Sell the trees and buy these people some food. Can you spare a dime brother? There is holiday spirit for you.

    Enjoy your holidays with whatever symbol you care to do it with.

    Comment by Joe (Seattle) — December 11, 2006 @ 12:56 pm
  14. El aeropuerto de Seattle saca los árboles de Navidad

    El aeropuerto de Seattle-Tacoma eliminó los arboles de Navidad que había puesto en sus instalaciones cuando el rabino Elazar Bogomilsky intercedió ante la dirección del aeropuerto ,amenazando con una demanda a la institución, para que se incluya l…

    Trackback by meneame.net — December 12, 2006 @ 7:16 am
  15. This incident shows clearly how one segment of American Society feels superior enough to ruin our spirit in this symbolically supposedly beautiful season. Unless this pseudo-dominance is terminated, the whole issue of neo-zionism would be the animus for all of us for a long time to come.

    Comment by Chairman — December 13, 2006 @ 8:06 am
  16. Hey Chairman, how was the holocaust deniers conference in Iran?

    Comment by Kevin — December 13, 2006 @ 8:53 am
  17. People are not paying attendtion to Seattle’s bullying tactics. The Rabbi started negotiation in October for adding one menorah to the 9-15 airport Christmas trees, got blown off, then mentioned lawsuit. Seattle abruptly took down all the Christmas trees and ran to the press falsly claiming that its choice was limited to “just trees” or “no trees,” so no trees.

    After just one day of hostile press, the Rabbi gave up and the Christmas trees, and only the Christmas trees, went back up. The Rabbi offered to put up a menorah at his own expense, but Seattle would not consider the option for reasons it would not explain.

    Seattle could have said that Christimas trees have been drained of all religious content, it’s a fair argument, but Seattle did not take that position. By falsely claiming that, if it put up trees and a menorah, it would have to put up symbols of every religion, it assumed Christmas trees were a religous symbol, the preferred one. Seattle’s absurd argument is that it cannot accomodate B, because then it must accomodate C-Z, therefore it will accomodate only A.

    Seattle can put up the additional symbols of only those that ask. Instead it puts up only Christmas trees and dupes the public into attacking those that ask for recognition of their symbols.

    Comment by Hewitt Rose — December 14, 2006 @ 11:20 am

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