ADL Response to the Port of Seattle Decision to Remove Christmas Trees
Update: On December 12, the Port of Seattle restored the Christmas Trees to SeaTac airport. No menorah will be displayed, but Port officials have said they will study the situation for next year.
Seattle, WA, December 11, 2006 ... This past week, the Port of Seattle decided to remove Christmas trees from the SeaTac airport rather than allow a rabbi to put up a menorah. While the rabbi opposed the Port's decision to remove the trees and told them so before the trees were taken down, the initial news stories reported that a representative of the Port of Seattle said that the trees were removed due to Jewish opposition. That story was wrong and painful and damaging to the Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League believes the decision by the Port of Seattle to remove Christmas trees from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was misguided. The decision should be reversed, and the trees should be restored. The Port of Seattle should also show respect for the Jewish community by allowing Chabad to display their menorah.
The Port of Seattle's decision and the adverse and incorrect publicity that followed has led to a surge of anti-Semitism, including hundreds of hate mail messages directed against the rabbi who sought permission for the menorah display. While the ADL continues to believe that private property is a more appropriate and less divisive setting for menorahs and other sectarian symbols, neither the rabbi nor any one else in the Jewish community ever sought to have the Christmas trees taken away from the airport.
The SeaTac Airport is a gateway to Seattle from the rest of the world and we are surprised that the Port of Seattle decided to remove the trees and to deny Chabad the right to display their menorah, rather than take this opportunity to demonstrate to the many new visitors to Seattle that we are a diverse, pluralistic and cosmopolitan city.
At this holiday season, we urge everyone in our community to take a moment to appreciate our country's profound respect for the religious liberty of all Americans, and let us celebrate in peace and with good will towards all.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.