In what has become a yearly holiday tradition, Israeli politicians are attempting to quash official attempts to recognize Christmas. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:
Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said it would be inappropriate to place a Christmas tree on prominent display in the Knesset following a request from a Christian lawmaker.
Edelstein suggested in a statement released Sunday that Hanna Swaid of the Israeli-Arab Hadash party, who is Christian, place a Christmas tree in his office or in the party’s faction room.
“I do not believe it appropriate to order the erection of a Christmas tree as you requested,” Edelstein wrote.
Swaid on Sunday told Israeli media that he was disappointed in Edelstein’s response.
“The public space does not only belong to the Jewish majority. It should show other groups,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
This isn’t a new issue in Israel. See this post for a similar story from 2009 about the fight over Christmas displays in Jerusalem, and this 2010 story about how Nazareth Illit mayor Shimon Gapso banned Christmas trees in town centers calling them a “provocation.” Last year Jonathan Cook reported on how the rabbinate was threatening to withhold kashrut certification to hotels with Christmas decorations, in essence putting them out of business. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, You fill my heart with existential dread.
Meanwhile, Israel has denied entry permits to five Arab tourism ministers who hoped to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem. From Ma’an News:
Israel refused to issue entry permits to five ministers who were expected to start arriving on Monday in order to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, PA Minister of Tourism Rula Maaya told Ma’an.
Among other events, Maaya said they were scheduled to attend the Christmas Eve midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of Jesus’ birth.
What exactly is Israel scared of?