Council refuses to light Hanukkah candles out of fear they could be vandalised | UK | News

Council refuses to light Hanukkah candles out of fear they could be vandalised | UK | News

A council is refusing to light Hanukkah candles out of fear they could be vandalised by protesters.

Havering Council in east London has decided not to display the candles outside its town hall in Romford because it would be an “unwise” decision.

In a statement, they said that displaying the candles had the potential to further inflame “tensions within our communities”.

Despite deciding not to display the candles anymore, the council has said it will still mark the beginning of Hannukah on December 7.

Their decision comes as tensions in Gaza remain high as the region remains affected by conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, the council said: “The council has taken the difficult decision to pause the planned installation of the Hanukah Menorah outside Havering Town Hall this year.

“We appreciate this is a hugely sensitive issue but in light of escalating tensions from the conflict in the Middle East, installing the candelabra now will not be without risk to the council, our partners, staff and local residents.

“We would also be concerned with any possible vandalism or other action against the installation. There will still be a temporary installation and event to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.

“This will be taken down after the event and we will look at a longer-term installation next year.”

The council added: “However, due to an increase in the number of hate crimes in Havering, both towards the Jewish and Muslim community and after consulting with the leader of the council, we believe it would be unwise to move forward with the installation which could risk further inflaming tensions within our communities.

“When we started work on the installation no one could have foreseen the recent international events and we have been fully committed to installing the candelabra with a number of council teams working to support it.

“Sadly, there are some who are politicising this and making accusations of antisemitism. This is categorically untrue and such statements are likely to incite further unrest in our communities.

“The council flew the Israeli flag in solidarity following the heinous terrorist attack against the people of Israel and we continue to stand by our local Jewish communities. However, while the war is ongoing we feel we must postpone the planned installation.”

The council said the decision to cancel the display “is not a decision we have taken lightly and we will revisit next year when we hope community tensions will have subsided”.

They also said that Havering Council “does not take sides in the current conflict and regrets the loss of life, injury, and distress on both sides”.

They added that the community and faith partners “will continue to provide support to all our communities and work with the local police to ensure that everyone feels safe in Havering”.

Hannukah is a Jewish festival that lasts eight days and commemorates the rededication of the Temple in 165BC after it was desecrated by Syrians. It is for this reason that eight lights are lit as part of the festival.

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