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Rabbi Calls on U.S. to Stop ‘Menace’ in Middle East as Hanukkah Begins

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The rabbi of one of Orange County’s largest temples called on the United States to uphold freedom in the Middle East as Jews all over the world Tuesday celebrated the first day of Hanukkah.

Speaking to about 20 people who had gathered at Temple Beth Emet to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights, Rabbi Irvin Brandwein said that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was unacceptable and that the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, as well as its strong alliance with Israel, was necessary to pressure Saddam Hussein into withdrawing his forces.

“America must fight to put a stop to this menance that is a threat to the world,” Brandwein said.

As Cantor Philip Moddel lit the first candle of the menorah, Brandwein also called upon Saudi Arabia to allow American servicemen to practice their own religions.

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“We are sure Americans are suppressing not just their flags but their crosses and Stars of David as well,” Brandwein said. “Saudi Arabia is a part of the world that operates according to a very Medieval religious system " that frowns upon religious toleration and violates the basic principle of Hanukkah--"the freedom to worship according to each person’s conscience.”


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