Lag B’Omer is a secondary Jewish holiday dating to Talmudic times whose origins are obscure. In Israel, one of its most widespread manifestations is the lighting of bonfires on the holiday eve, which this year (2010) occurs on Saturday, May 1.
Some celebrate by burning symbols of enemies in the bonfires. When I was a child, notebooks from the classes of particularly hated teachers served that purpose. In recent years, right-wing groups have organized to encourage the burning of photos and effigies of national enemies.
On Thursday (April 22 2010), IDF Radio revealed that a Kahanist group was adding a new national enemy to the pantheon of effigies burned at bonfires and getting ready for a mass distribution of the materials required. One of the organizers told listeners:
Today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
It will be interesting to see whether the Anti-Defamation League will weigh-in on this new development.
Effigies of Obama distributed for burning on Lag B’Omer
Ma Boer, IDF Radio, April 22 2010 10:24 [Click here to listen to original recording in Hebrew]
Rino Tzror: Hello to Guy Varon, our correspondent in the territories. So they started to distribute effigies and pictures of Obama?
Guy Varon: After we have seen right-wing activists burning pictures of Saddam, Nasrallah and Arafat in recent years on Lag B’Omer, this year there is a new star, US Pres. Barack Obama.
Rino Tzror: Did you see an effigy of Obama?
Guy Varon: We saw the effigies and the pictures. I also want to add that we say Barack Obama. These right wing people really like to say Hussein Obama.
Rino Tzror: Right.
Guy Varon: Pictures and effigies of the superpower leader will be distributed this year ahead of Lag B’Omer by rightwing activists. They explained that as far as they are concerned he is an enemy of Israel. His behavior harms Israel more than anything. For them the message is that Obama is bad for the Jews.
Rino Tzror: And they’re going to burn him on bonfires, like they used to burn pictures of Hitler, of all kinds of enemies of Israel. Is that the way Obama is going to be treated this Lag B’Omer?
Guy Varon: That is definitely the intention of the people who are giving out the pictures and the effigies.
Rino Tzror: Stay with us. Now we are going to talk to Bentzy Gopstein. Good morning.
Bentzy Gopstein: Good morning Rino.
Rino Tzror: You are a follower of Kahane, right?
Bentzy Gopstein: Right.
Rino Tzror: Who started this project of Obama effigies?
Bentzy Gopstein: There are a few friends together. They decided that today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
Rino Tzror: No, I never burned Hussein. We used to burn Hitler. We used to go for the real villains, not the ones who maybe were and maybe weren’t.
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