No Netanyahu, Israel Isn’t The Only Middle Eastern Place Where Christians Can Celebrate Christmas

In his increasingly childish bitchfit against the international political establishment that saw his country’s transgressions through settlements on Palestinian land finally made illegal with a UN resolution banning Israel – yeah, right – from building more of them, the Israeli PM is lashing out at his country’s closest ally and the reason Israel has been off the hook in everything it’s done for years, the United States.

As part of a rant aimed at US Secretary of State John Kerry whose tone was very moderate towards the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with him recognizing the plight of Palestinians and their refugees, the land grab they’ve been victim of, among other things, Netanyahu figured it best to remind Kerry, and by extension of his buzz words that you know will circle Fox News for months to come, other Americans and Westerners who see Israel as the only worthy beacon of civilization in the Middle East that – and I quote:

“Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas.”

In the grand scheme of things, such statements are utterly meaningless, mostly because they’re pure bullshit. But as we’ve seen bullshit can actually get equal bullshit elected. The danger in letting such statements go by unchallenged is that they play right into the rhetoric that Israel and its allies want to put forward: It is the only country in the Middle East that’s, for all matters and purposes, worth anything, everyone else be damned.

It’s precisely not challenging such statements in the past that has turned Israel from the apartheid state existing on occupied territory, turning a blind eye towards all rules of war, ignoring many of the UN resolutions in which it is part, among other things, to this “liberal,” “religiously free” beacon of “hope” in the Middle East that is only “defending” itself against those “Arabs” who just don’t get it. All of this to the backdrop of Christian-centric, Israel-loving, everything and everyone else-hating Trump coming in 3 weeks.

So Netanyahu, and those that seem to believe him, how about you come sit on last year’s Byblos tree? I’m pretty sure it will bring your lot quite the pleasure.

jbeil-byblos-christmas-tree-2015

This year’s tree can work fine too:

byblos-jbeil-christmas-tree-2016

Or how about you come see this year’s tree in Tripoli? In case you didn’t know, that’s *whispers* Muslim territory.

tripoli-christmas-village-1

How about checking out the tree in Downtown Beirut?

beirut-downtown-tree-2016

Pic via @livelovebeirut.

Or the many other ways through which Beirut celebrated Christmas? (Pictures via LiveLoveBeirut).

 

Or how about the tree in my own house where my family gathered for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas lunch, opened presents and then had some of its members go to midnight mass?

lebanon-christmas-decoration-2016-2

Or those pesky Christmas decorations in all our malls?

I also don’t see Israel on that Huffington Post list of notable Christmas trees from around the world but Lebanon has TWO entries there, as does the West Bank. Weird, huh?

I find it odd that the country that sells itself as being the world’s only Jewish state and gets away with it because anyone who tries to challenge that notion is deemed anti-Semitic has the audacity to claim it’s a defender of Christian rights when Christians in Israel are, similarly to Muslims, inherently second class citizens due to the fact they’re not, you know, Jewish. Just an FYI to Netanyahu and his friends, the president in Lebanon is Christian and I, a Lebanese who happens to be Christian (on paper), have the absolute freedom to practice my religion if I want to without worrying about checkpoints, armies oppressing me, a state that deems my religion second-rate, among other things.

And if you thought that Lebanon was a special case, let me remind you that it was less than a week ago that Israeli rabbis had a problem with Christmas decorations at a local mall. Or does that not affect the way Christians celebrate Christmas?

Conversely, when that “scandal” was going down, I was visiting the Jordanian city Aqaba, from which I could see Eilat. The city was Christmas ready with decorations at its hotels and streets, even though its Christian population is minor.

aqaba-christmas-decoration

The fact of the matter is that the best Christmas in the Middle East isn’t in Lebanon or in Jordan, but where it all began: Bethlehem. And even that isn’t in Israel either.

Tea, meet kettle.

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12 thoughts on “No Netanyahu, Israel Isn’t The Only Middle Eastern Place Where Christians Can Celebrate Christmas

  1. Outstanding article and terrific illustrations as well. Netanyahu’s bluff and bull must be called out at every turn. Good job Elie.

    Reply
  2. how about Aleppo were faithfuls attended Christmas celebrations in a damaged church. How about christmas celebrations in Bartella in Iraq. How about christmas celebrations in Cairo, Teheran or Dubai? Lebanon is far from being an exception…Maybe Natanyahu has in mind his Saudi Arabian allies when he thinks of Arabs who do not celebrate christmas.

    Reply
  3. Great article, let’s not forget Christmas is widely celebrated and in the GCC states and is recognized by the governments, notably Bahrain, UAE and Kuwait. There are several posts by their official news agencies recognizing official local Christian bodies and members of government greeting their Christian communities on the occasion of Christmas.

    Reply
  4. Season’s Greetings! Thanks so much for this article. Well, Netanyahu has another toddler like himself with whom to play dangerous, deadly games. Lets see for how long, however.Best wishes for all that is good in 2017 and may the New Year bring peace to all life on this planet. Life More Abundant!

    Audrey

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Lebanese Writer Answers Netanyahu’s Bogus Claim About Christmas | Fig Trees and Vineyards

  6. Im so glad you mentioned the two rabbis who tried to say it was against Jewish law to have Christmas trees and even had a class of students banned from walking into hotel where a Christmas tree was erected. I laughed when I heard Israeli PM make those ridiculous claims I couldnt help but think he must be mad if he believes that he will get away with that kind of nonsense for much longer not in the age of social media. Thanks for a great article.

    Reply
  7. The israeli pm is right. Do u c xmas celebrations on a public scale in the arab world?? And in lebanon its done for pokitical reasons,, just to show that the leb love each other. While we all know that they hate each orher to death. I suggest u try and become 1% of what israel is before u talk about it.

    Reply
    • Khaled my friend. I don’t know what your nationality is. I’m Lebanese Christian and we do it not because of politics – we celebrate it in every home, church, family etc … it’s even a public holiday so every employee, shop etc closes down. Even my muslim friends celebrate it just for the fun of it as a ritual. Christians in Lebanon are 40% of the population and we get along just fine with are fellow muslims. Maybe you should get your head out of your ass and look up a bit… or travel more – do some research.
      And if you are Lebanese, then your family is just radical religious and made you believe that we do it only for politics and not love

      Reply
      • And we don’t hate each other … my best friend is Muslim – 5 of my friends are married inter-religiously (meaning civil, muslim and christian couples if that word is too big for you)

        Reply

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