7 Comments

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Message


This is interesting, especially in light of what the post below this one had to say about Christians in the Middle East. 

From Haaretz  by Barak Ravid

Quote,

Every year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publishes a Christmas message for Christians in Israel and abroad. One of the message’s objectives is hasbara, or public diplomacy, to the Christians of the world. But this year’s greeting was especially political. Netanyahu chose to radicalize his traditional greeting into an attack on Muslims in Arab countries.

In his December 2011 greeting, Netanyahu made do with pointing out the fact that in the Middle East “Christians are persecuted in a routine manner, and there is little tolerance toward them.”

In his 2012 greeting, Netanyahu, who continuously cautions the world that Israel is under existential threat from Iran, asserted that the Christians in the Middle East are in danger of extermination. No less.

“Today Christian communities throughout the Middle East are shrinking and many of them are in danger,” said Netanyahu, according to the announcement published by his bureau in Hebrew and English. “…this is of course not true in Israel. Here there is a strong and growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country.”

Netanyahu did not specify in his greeting exactly who is threatening to annihilate the Christians, but it’s clear from the wording that he means the Muslims. As he did last year, he emphasized that the Christian community in Israel is large and that it enjoys freedom of religion and freedom to worship, but this year he added a hinted reference to the “Judeo-Christian heritage.”

The reference is to a sensitive term taken from the conceptual world of the rightist-evangelical anti-Muslim wing of the Republican Party. After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. conservative politicians and intellectuals used this term in criticizing American multi-culturalism and claimed that the Muslims were engaged in a culture war against Judaism and Christianity.

Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice-president in the recent U.S. election, employed this notion. “Obama is threatening the Judeo-Christian values of the United States,” Ryan told evangelical Christians in a conference call.

“So as you celebrate Christmas and your holy holidays, we hope that you will recall the places where Judaism and Christianity emerged and then come see our ancient land with your own eyes,” Netanyahu said. “Visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and next year come visit our eternal capital Jerusalem.”

Incidentally, in last year’s message Netanyahu did not refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

Video can be viewed at youtube here 

*UPDATED*

Soon after posting this I realized some people reading it may not be subscribed to Haaretz and would not be able to read the remainder of the article. So for those who cannot access it, below you’ll find the rest of the article. 

In this year’s message, Netanyahu referred to attacks on Christians in Israel over the past year. “Israel will continue to safeguard places of Christian worship throughout our country,” he said. “We will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship; this is not our way and this is something we cannot accept.”

Netanyahu’s statements on freedom of worship for Christians in Israel come against the background of a highly critical investigative report on the subject broadcast on the CBS-TV “60 Minutes” program and a record number of “price tag” attacks against churches and monasteries in Israel over the past year.

The escalation of attacks against Christian institutions in Israel was heavily criticized by European and U.S. Christian communities, and was strongly condemned by France, the U.K. and the Vatican. Criticism intensified after it became apparent that not one of the attackers had been apprehended and brought to justice.

Israel’s use of Christmas in its public diplomacy became a topic for discussion last week, after *Israel’s embassy in Ireland posted a picture of Jesus and Mary on Facebook together with a caption asserting that if the two of them now resided in Bethlehem, they would be murdered by Palestinians. Strong protests prompted the embassy to remove the photo and caption from its Facebook page and apologize.

Netanyahu did not go so far as to use the Christian holy figures for political purposes. But it is possible to understand what the diplomats in Ireland were thinking after viewing the Christmas message distributed today.

 

7 comments on “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Message

  1. I’m sure i’ll be burned at the stake for this comment touching on the golden calf of the western church, but frankly i don’t care. Its the truth.

    I was reading this today and thought, “how childish”.

    Israel approves another 1,200 settlement units around Jerusalem: Plan brings total approvals to 5,500 in just over a week as right urges Binyamin Netanyahu to drop two-state solution pledge

    quote,

    Israel has given the green light for the fast-track development of a further 1,200 settlement units around Jerusalem. It brings the total number of new approvals to 5,500 in just over a week, the largest wave of proposed expansion in recent memory.

    The latest plan, which would see almost 1,000 new apartments built over Jerusalem’s green line in Gilo, comes as the Israeli media is reporting mounting pressure on the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to drop his commitment to a two-state solution from his platform for re-election in January.

    The agreement for the Gilo development is only the latest in wave of settlement approvals in Jerusalem agreed by the country’s interior ministry and Jerusalem municipality’s planning committees before Christmas. (source, The Guardian)

    Why do i see this as childish behaviour? Because all this newly escalated ILLEGAL settlement building is undeniably in retaliation to last months United Nation decision to formally recognize the state of Palestine.

    Reminds me of a child who doesn’t get his/her way yelling “yeah, well i’ll show YOU!”

  2. It should be obvious to anyone without an agenda that neither side really wants peace. If fallen people who have centuries old hatred for each other can achive peace without Christ than the Bible is not true. I believe there is coming a day when it will all break loose in the Middle East, and that may well be the beginning of the end of the beginning!

    • I believe there is coming a day when it will all break loose in the Middle East, and that may well be the beginning of the end of the beginning!

      Amen Rick. And it appears on the surface this is the ultimate goal of Christian zionists.

  3. Let me qualify that I absolutely love Israel, as in the Israeli people. I am not dispensational, but as a particular group, I have fondness for Israel.

    But you’re dead on. The government of Israel is like a spoiled child and America a vacillating adult: “No, don’t do that Bibi. Bad Bibi. Ok, here’s your Ice cream (i.e.millions of dollars in weapons contracts)”.

    Israel is drinking too much poison from the Imperium, though the paranoia is if they didn’t it would be like the War of Independence. Women and children armed with AK47s, perched in their homes, waiting enemy tanks.

    The settlements really just make Israel look like a 2 faced liar and incites Arabs. Round and round the cycle of hatred goes and these so called christians in America only dump gasoline on the fire.

    Israel needs the gospel about their own Messiah, not fuel for sick nationalism that is ending in dead Israelis and, even more so, crushed and obliterated Palestinians. Bibi says he loves the Christians, why not the Palestinian Christians? Who speaks for them?

    • Cal, i can say im in agreement with everything you said.

      I too love the people of Israel, especially after having met quite a few on online. A few have become good trusted friends.

      But like many of those i’ve conversed with have done, we need to face the truth. Though many claim it is, Israel (today) is not a democracy.

      Quoted from a recent article by AVRAHAM BURG

      My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.

      Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?

      Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.

      In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.

      This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes.

      BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy.

      We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits. (more)

      Amen, Israel needs the gospel…it’s people (all of them) need Jesus. But as long as Christian zionists in the west continue to see Israel and its people through the lens of the old testament, it will never happen.

  4. This caught my eye:

    “…“Visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and next year come visit our eternal capital Jerusalem.”

    I have a thought and a speculation about that sentence.

    First let me say I have business associates who are Jewish living in Belguim building a series of apartments/condos in Israel. Among the Jews who live outside the land of promise their goal is to one day come back there to be a familial part both of the promise and the heritage of their religious practice.

    My speculation is this that is thought seriously now more than ever because of that sentence and particularly the phrase, intended to send a signal and a political message, to be sure: “…and next year come visit our eternal capital Jerusalem”, Israel is preparing to take back the ground where the dome of the rock is now presently controled by the support of Islamic nations.

    I predict that this take over and the removal of the dome is what is in the works and that sentence, in my view just confirms it? If ever there was a belligerence that would cause the entire world to stop and rethink their political ties with Israel that military action would be at the top of the list of things Israel can and I believe will do to anger the world against them?

    70 A.D. revisited I suppose?

    • Yes i caught that too Michael.

      Christian zionists have been working along side Israel’s right-wing Likud party in the attempt to get other nations to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for some time. I know they’ve been trying for years to get the United States to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, believing this would cause other nations to follow suit. So far, the US has declined to do so….or rather, presidents have declined for there are many within our government who would have done it years ago.

      My speculation is this that is thought seriously now more than ever because of that sentence and particularly the phrase, intended to send a signal and a political message, to be sure: “…and next year come visit our eternal capital Jerusalem”, Israel is preparing to take back the ground where the dome of the rock is now presently controled by the support of Islamic nations.

      Amen. It most certainly sends a message. Not only to the zionists within Israel, but to Christian zionists in America and elsewhere.

      I predict that this take over and the removal of the dome is what is in the works and that sentence, in my view just confirms it? If ever there was a belligerence that would cause the entire world to stop and rethink their political ties with Israel that military action would be at the top of the list of things Israel can and I believe will do to anger the world against them?

      You could be right Michael. Especially as its being reported that pressure upon Binyamin Netanyahu is escalating within Israel for him to drop his commitment to a two-state solution. And i agree…any future actions taken to remove the dome would sure cause the nations of the world to rethink their current positions concerning Israel.

      70 A.D. revisited I suppose?

      Believe me, i’ve thought alot about that.

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