Organizations from all shades of the political spectrum are holding Hanukkah events this week at various army bases, with or without military authorization.
On Sunday night, the U.S. organization, United with Israel, which has a pro-settlement agenda and is identified with the American religious-right, held an army-approved Hanukkah party at the Military Police base in Anatot, outside of Jerusalem.
The group, which has trademarked its slogan, The Global Movement for Israel, organizes events in support of the Jewish settlement in Hebron and in Jerusalem-area settlements, and also conducts pro-Israeli public relations. In August, it took part in Glenn Beck's "Restoring Courage" event in Jerusalem. Beck was fired from the right-wing U.S. Fox News Channel earlier this year for accusing President Barack Obama of "hating white people."
On its website, United with Israel encourages the purchase of homes in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and takes donations for the cause. The organization's Jerusalem offices did not respond to our request for comments.
Elsewhere, members of the Chabad movement, Lubavitch Hasidim affiliated with the messianic right, are planning to visit dozens of Israel Defense Forces bases and outposts during the holiday to distribute sufganiyot and Hanukkah menorahs to the soldiers. Although the army has not authorized these visits, Chabadnikim enter the bases freely, often leaving informational material in the synagogues. Chabad's website invites supporters to its Hannukah party at the Anatot army base, near Ramallah. The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a response that it had not received a permit request from Chabad and would review any that arrived.
The other side of the political map is also getting into the act. This week, the United Kibbutz Movement's Special Assignments Division is bringing high-school seniors to an infantry training base in the Negev, where they will meet with GOC Southern Command Tal Russo. The head of the division, Yoel Marshak, openly admits the political character of the event.
"We're encouraging our students to join regular combat units, like the Kfir Brigade, which serves in the territories, and not only the elite units," Marshak said, adding - "as a counterweight to the influence of the settlers."
In a response, the IDF Spokesman's Office said: "Last night, there was a Hannukah event at the Anatot base that was held in cooperation with the nonprofit organization Lehayalim Be'ahava (Thank Israeli Soldiers ), which gives donations to the IDF, in cooperation with the Aguda Lema'an Hachayal (The Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers). It was approved by the IDF. The ideological positions of the NGOs is not a factor in accepting donations."
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