White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough used the lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah to push President Obama’s efforts to allow refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East into the U.S.

“So this is a joyous occasion, and yet as we heard earlier we are mindful that even as we gather here tonight, that while the light of freedom burns brightly for us and for our generation, it flickers for others,” McDonough said as he stood before a 30 foot menorah on the Ellipse in front of the White House.

“Refugees fleeing religious intolerance and oppression. People targeted for their faith, people whose faith is perverted by others,” McDonough continued. “We are Americans, and as Americans we do not turn our backs on those who seek sanctuary. Nor do we stay quiet in the face of bigotry or intolerance. We stand up for those persecuted around the world.”

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