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Why Did Nazareth Cancel Then Uncancel Christmas?

Christmas in Nazareth
Christmas in Nazareth (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Zaher Abu Elnaser)

Nazareth, a city in Israel most famous for being Jesus’ childhood hometown, announced it would cancel all Christmas festivities this year. The stated reason, according to the Muslim mayor, is in protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.

Our identity and faith aren’t up for debate,” Mayor of Nazareth Ali Salam said at a Thursday press conference. “The decision has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year.”

Tens of thousands of people normally travel to the city for Christmas, where lights and festival displays are put on.

Some people are blaming this on Trump. Left-wing outlet Alternet, for example, ran the headline “Jesus Christ’s Hometown of Nazareth Just Canceled Christmas Because of Trump.”

This is a flagrant misrepresentation of what happened. The Muslim mayor of Nazareth chose to damage his own city’s economy and stifle the religious expression of a minority just because the president of a different country made a symbolic declaration about Jerusalem that changed nothing on the ground.

And that certainly is not Trump’s fault.

It is a classic play, attempting to gain the sympathy of the world by deliberately inflicting suffering on your own people for a political purpose. Yet, the ruined Christmas of the people of Nazareth would have been solely the fault of a selfish and spiteful decisions made by their own leaders.

However, it seems that the mayor came to his senses. The mayor relented and told the media that festivities will be happening as usual. Presumably, he bowed to factions that were none too happy about the economic ramifications of banning the city’s most popular tourist attraction.

 

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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