General Antisemitism

How the Jews steal Christmas: Ugly Guardian story evokes Jesus as an “oppressed” Palestinian

As NGO Monitor noted about the above cartoon, a Christmas card distributed by the NGO War on Want:

This Christmas card shows Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary encountering a Bethlehem that is “effectively sealed off from the outside world by Israel’s Separation Wall” and “Mary and Joseph being frisked on their way to find an Inn for the night.” Linking the suffering of Palestinians with that of Jesus and Bethlehem is a common strategy for emphasizing accusations of Israeli brutality.

Such an insidious narrative, which uses Christmas as a means to demonize the Jewish state – including the conflation of Jesus with the Palestinians – is not uncommon among the British NGOs most hostile to Israel such as War on Want,  Amos Trust, and Pax Christi, and other NGOs, such as Sabeel and Adalah-NY.

A recent essay – to which NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg contributed – noted:

UK-based Amos Trust is advertising its annual Bethlehem Pack, “a resource…which refers to Christian symbols in order to conflate the suffering of Jesus with the experience of Palestinians, explaining “If Jesus was born today in Bethlehem, the Wise Men would spend several hours queuing to enter the town” and “If Jesus was born today in Bethlehem, much of the shepherds’ fields would have been confiscated for illegal Israeli settlements.”

As the author of the essay observed, “These theological references are direct successors to millennia of Christian anti-Semitic campaigns.”

Such tropes are also employed by the Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood.

Here is the headline of her Dec. 22 report:

Here’s the Guardian photo and caption which accompanied Greenwood’s report – evoking Jesus Christ, the ‘Good Shepherd’ (John, verses 11-13), which is among the most common symbolic representations of Christ found in Early Christian art:

Greenwood’s tale leaves little to the imagination, beginning thusly:

If Joseph and Mary were making their way to Bethlehem today, the Christmas story would be a little different, says Father Ibrahim Shomali, a parish priest in the town. The couple would struggle to get into the city, let alone find a hotel room.

“If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed,” says the priest of Bethlehem’s Beit Jala parish. “He would either have to be born at a checkpoint or at the separation wall. Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission – or to have been tourists.

However, as I pointed out in a previous post, the ONLY place in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown since the end of WWII is Israel, and the flight of Christians from Palestinian controlled areas, such as Bethlehem, is primarily the result of persecution by the majority Muslim population.

Today, Christians make up just 1% of the population of the Palestinian territories. In 1920, they represented 10%.  And, in Bethlehem in particular, not only has the number of Christians continued to dwindle, but Bethlehem and its surroundings also recently has become hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and members.

Undeterred, Greenwood continues:

Dr Jad Isaac, an expert in Bethlehem’s demographics and a consultant to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, says aside from the physical restrictions on development, Bethlehem’s economy is being strangled by the loss of land and restrictions on Palestinian movement. [Emphasis mine]

However, as Reuters reported (consistent with a recent Post by Akus)

With millions of tourists expected in the West Bank town of Bethlehem during Christmas, local merchants and tourism officials say they are enjoying an economic boom. Palestinian minister of tourism, Kholod Daibes, predicted that two million tourists will visit the city by the end of 2011.

We expect to attract greater numbers who are making a special visit so there will be more who stay in the Palestinian hotels, especially when the number of rooms and facilities is increasing,” she said. Daibes said that despite the Arab Spring revolutions in the region, which is expected to impact on tourist numbers, the outlook is still better than in previous years.

Greenwood concludes:

“The little town of Bethlehem? It will soon be the little ghetto surrounded in all directions by Israeli settlements,” he predicts. “We’ve already passed the stage where Bethlehem can be saved. Frankly, that’s why I don’t celebrate Christmas any more.”

In the media there are, to be sure, small lies, big lies and moral obscenities.

The small lie in Greenwood’s tale pertains to her suggestion that Bethlehem is being economically strangled by Israeli policy.

The big lie is that Israeli Jews are, in any way, oppressing Christians.

The morally obscene charge is that, if Christ, Mary and Joseph were all alive today, they’d be persecuted by the Jewish state.

The indisputable fact, however, is that Israel remains the sole nation in the Middle East where Christians thrive and worship freely.

Is this even debatable?

42 replies »

  1. If a homeless Jewish family were to be travelling today on the West Bank, who would they fear?

  2. Since Jesus was a Jew, how are Arab children taught to regard Jews by their teachers and religious leaders?

    Let’s take a look.

    Arabs brainwashed little girls to hate Jews

    BTW, The above is a recording of an Arabian childrens show, not a cartoon.

  3. Seeing as how Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were all Jews, their home would be missiled, their donkey cart stoned, and sweet baby Jesus (a Zionist) would have his neck slit.

    All in the name of peace, of course.

  4. They should make a Christmas card showing what would have probably happened to the Holy Family if they showed up in Ramallah looking for an inn… except of course that that wouldn’t be a very festive image.

  5. Poor Mary would be stoned (not in a good way) for having a child out of wedlock………

    It’s bad enough having Muslim palestinians hating Israel,but having palestinian Christians doing the same is sickening.If not for Israel these shitty palestinian Christians would suffer the same fate as the Copts in Egypt,Iraq Iran Saudi Arabia,Gaza,Pakistan,Indonesia,Malaysia,and in all these other “enlightened” Muslim States.

    Gratitude is definitely not an inherent attribute of these miserable palestinians sods……..

  6. I am a Christian and when I read my bible it is very clear that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea in Israel. Therefore Bethlehem is part of Judea which is part of Israel for the Biblical and historical record. Therefore it is the Palestinians who have taken for themselves the heartland of Israel and of course Jesus was born a Jew in Judea in Israel. Today the land has been appropriated by the Arabs in the propaganda war against Israel. The Jews who have returned to thier Promised Land Israel are fighting a war of attempted deligitimisation and terror. The reason for the wall is terrorism of course. But to those who support the myth of the Palestinian people why would you let history and truth stand in the way of propaganda. Lies, more lies and defamations are all they can come up with.

  7. Would someone be so kind as to hop over to my blog and put a commenter right. It’s for my benefit really as I need to learn the counter arguments more fully:

    Quote of the Day

    Really appreciate any help. Thanks in advance.

  8. Phoebe Greenwood’s sheer malice is despicable. Yet to give her credit, she has filed a report that about the oppression of the tiny Christian community in Gaza. Christmas Day is no longer a holiday since Hamas came to power, Christians are leaving if they can, and people “do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous”

    Even here though, she manages to smuggle in a few negative comments about Israel. She just can’t help herself.

  9. “Today, Christians make up just 1% of the population of the Palestinian territories. In 1920, they represented 10%.”

    Let us assume these figures are correct for the sake of argument.

    What event, do tell, in the years between 1920 and today has produced such a dramatic falling away?

    The de-Christianisation of Palestine is a function of its de-Arabisation.

    “Is this even debatable?”


    • “What event, do tell, in the years between 1920 and today has produced such a dramatic falling away?”

      The rise of Islamofascism, jealousy of the Arab/Muslim world as the Infidel world eclipses Islam. Just ask the Coptic Christians of Egypt.

      P.S. Jordan is “palestine”.

      • “The rise of Islamofascism, jealousy of the Arab/Muslim world as the Infidel world eclipses Islam.”

        That is the first time I have ever read the Haganah being described as “Islamofascist”!

        • ‘That is the first time I have ever read the Haganah being described as “Islamofascist”!’

          Little boy, Palestinian Arab Christian nationalists were one with their fellow Palestinian Arab Muslims in the expulsionism or eliminationism that characterised that national movement during the latter Mandate period.

          They had no problem reconciling their Christ with ethnically cleansing modern Palestinian Jews, or worse. No more than they had reconciling him with dispossessing and excluding Jews from the birth and most of Palestinian Christian history.

          Try to subject the Christians concerned to the same rigorous standards as you do the Jews.


      • More historical revisionism. Palestine is and always was the land west of the river, while the modern country Jordan is to the east.

    • The Arab population has increased dramatically since 1920. It’s the Christian portion of that population that’s dwindled. In Israel, however, the proportion of Christians is ever increasing. Apparently the portion of your brain dedicated to bigotry is increasing, while the portion dedicated to critical think is dwindling. See the parallel?

    • Your sarcasm masks your ignorance. If you study the demographic changes the Christian population of Bethlehem only started to decline once Israel CEASED control and the Palestinian Authority took over. Your assumptions are easily proved false. It is Islamic ideology chasing Christians out, just as in Iraq, not Israel; within which the Christian community is booming.

    • Unfortunately Palestinian Arab Christians joined their fellow Muslims in resisting Jews living in the land in above the tiny numbers imperial Christian and Islamic apartheid decreed; joined them in their war and struggle against the Jews of Palestine and Israel. Fortunately, they lost. But most continued to abide in Israel and the WB.

      Even so, Israel allowed its Christian citizens more freedom and sovereignty over their holy sites than Palestinian Christians ever granted Jews (if you’re a Christian, a primitive Christian tribalism of which you are probably unaware has blinded you to even considering such a possibility: grow up, little boy).

      Daniel, you are profoundly ignorant. Check the figures for Christians under Jordanian rule in 1948, and compare them with those of 1967: 25 000 to 13 000.

  10. If you think that Harriet Sherwood was fluffy wait till you read this Phoebe Greenwood’s tweets about Israel.She sounds unbalanced,and of course she doesn’t like us,that is why she got the job.A freelance journalist who is fast with actual facts and based in Jerusalem,

    Does the Guardian have an endless supply of these sour and miserable women who get their rocks off by writing these ignorant and malicious articles about Israel. ……

  11. Amazing how much misrepresentation can be found in the media. Only today, a BBC World News reporter interviewed a Christian shepherd living near Bethlehem who complained he had too little land on which to feed his small herd because of the “settlement” of Gilo- all this while showing the vast expanse of totally barren land, quite useless for grazing even by hardy Middle East sheep and goats, leading over to Gilo in the distance.

    The next interviewee was the chief organiser for the Bethlehem Xmas celebrations who had no trouble saying that last year’s visitors were many and that this year, even more tourists were expected. So much for “economic strangulation.”

  12. Of course the post card is not only saying, en effait, Jesus was a Palestinian Arab Muslim-Christian, it is also saying that Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians are Christ in national incarnation (with guess who persecuting/crucifying him -again?).

    It is a blatant piece of Christian nationalist propaganda, especially since for near 2000 years Palestinian Christians have been perfectly happy to believe Christ ethnically cleansed the Jews, as their just deserts.

  13. It is not Israel stealing Christmas, it is Islam. Why is it so hard for people to see this. This religion has no tolerance for any other religion, or anyone not of Islam, but its own. Always have and always will remain this way. Unbelievable that the left and the so called educated cannot (or will not give credit where credit is due).Shame on your ignorance (or your failure to speak the real truth).

  14. Since the Israelis like to invoke the promise given to Abram/Abraham as their authority to possess the land, they should be working to take all the land from the “River of Egypt,” usually identified as the wadi al-Arish (some think it an eastern branch of the Nile delta) to the Euphrates (northwest Iraq of today) and to drive out the non-Israelite (non-“Jewish”) inhabitants as Canaanites. Aren’t the Arabs conscious of this?
    Trouble is, they were also told to leave the Moabites and Edomites alone as long as they stayed in their places. So how can anyone tell who is a Moabite or an Edomite at this late date?

    Jesus of Nazareth is as Jewish as anyone can get. His genealogy traces back on both His legal lineage (Joseph) and his physiological lineage (Mary) to Judah, progenitor of the Judahites/Jews.