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Official: Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian in northern Gaza
Nazareth suburb's mayor: Christmas trees 'provocative'
Published Thursday 23/12/2010 (updated) 23/12/2010 21:25
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Palestinian scouts perform during the lighting ceremony of the main Christmas
tree in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem on December 18, 2010,
six days before the Christmas. Scores of Christian pilgrims are preparing to gather
in the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas.
[MaanImages/Luay Sababa]
NAZARETH ILLIT, Israel (AFP) -- The mayor of a Jewish suburb of Nazareth sparked outrage on Wednesday after refusing to allow Christmas trees to be placed in town squares, calling them provocative.

Predominantly Jewish Nazareth Illit, or Upper Nazareth, is adjacent to Nazareth, where Christians believe Jesus spent much of his life. It has a sizable Arab Christian minority, as does mostly Muslim Nazareth itself.

"The request of the Arabs to put Christmas trees in the squares in the Arab quarter of Nazareth Illit is provocative," Mayor Shimon Gapso told AFP.

"Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen -- not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor," he said of the northern Israeli town.

"Nazareth is right next door and they can do what they want there," he said.

His decision angered the town's Arab and Christian minority, who accused him of racism.

"The racism of not putting a tree up is nothing compared to the real racism that we experience here," said Aziz Dahdal, a 35-year-old Christian resident of Nazareth Illit.

"When we asked the mayor to put up a Christmas tree in the Arab neighbourhoods of Nazareth Illit he said this is a Jewish town, not a mixed town," said Shukri Awawdeh, a Muslim Arab member of the town council.

Awawdeh said there were 10,000 Arabs, most of them Christian in the town and there was also a large community of Christian Russian immigrants.

"We told him that decorating a tree is just to share the happiness and cheer with other people in the town," said Awawdeh.

"People here, Jews, Christians and Muslims live in harmony, but when the mayor does something like that, it does not make things better."

Christmas festivities in the Holy Land focus on the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus in a manger. But there are also events in Nazareth, where Jesus is believed to have grown up with his mother Mary and her husband Joseph.
1 ) Maureen / Australia
23/12/2010 11:42
What's the stupid Mayor complaining about - the tree has a star on top for goodness sake!

2 ) Outsider / EU
23/12/2010 13:40
A provocative tree, what next?

3 ) Joop / Netherlands
23/12/2010 15:54
A terrorist tree?

4 ) Elias / Nazareth, Palestine
23/12/2010 18:55
All of Nazareth belongs to Palestine. This jewish mayor do not have any roots here so who is he to dictate anything? We were here before he and the rest of the zionists came to occupy us in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nablus and the rest of Palestine. The evangelists who support israel in the US and Europe should be ashamed of themselves for supporting those who hate christ.

5 ) Donna / US
24/12/2010 01:27
if you only knew . . .

6 ) arenaofspeculation.org / UK
24/12/2010 04:04
Joop... I'm afraid Israel entered the twilight zone long ago. “The [olive] trees look so na?ve, as if they couldn’t harm anyone. Just like children. But then, many years later, they turn into terrorists that actually kill people... The tree is the enemy soldier” David Kishik, Chief Inspector of the Israeli 'Civil Administration' in the West Bank

7 ) chris lynch / USA
24/12/2010 09:38
The christian muslim and jewish leaders should all make it know to the mayor and the public that a christmas tree and other symbols are not provocative but emblematic of a part of life for some of the people who call Nazareth home. If the mayor cant lead then help him see the way forward.

8 ) John / NZ
24/12/2010 10:38
4) Nazareth Illit belongs to Israel and was built by it as a Jewish town; you surely know that far better than I do. However, I understand why you may not accept that because I agree with the rest of what you wrote. I especially love your last point about evangelists (and evangelicals) supporting those who hate Christ. That is indeed quite shameful. It is in fact a sellout to the enemy of the Prince of Peace and a betrayal of his Palestinian and Jewish followers.

9 ) Katifa / USA
24/12/2010 10:38
And they wonder why people all over the world hate them! Well, this is just ONE example.

10 ) parliament_nil / Canada
24/12/2010 10:55
I honestly couldn't care less about Christmas, or religion at all. Still, it's a shame that one petty tyrant can ruin the joy of thousands. Does a tree ruin the joy of Nazarene Jews? Did it prevent them from enjoying Chanukah with friends and family? Never mind that it's Nazareth's Christian heritage that brings the tourists in droves... "If a test of civilization be sought, none can be so sure as the condition of that half of society over which the other half has power." -Harriet Martineau

11 ) Tehreem Mahmood / Pakistan
24/12/2010 13:01
I am just waiting to see if this story, or the negative reaction generated against "The mayor of a Jewish suburb of Nazareth" changes (read: even effects) him or anything.

12 ) Elias / Nazareth, Palestine
24/12/2010 14:52
John/NZ- nothing in Palestine belongs to israel. This town is built on stolen land just like the rest of the so called israeli towns and cities. There is no diffirence between a zionist settlement in the westbank and a zionist settlement anywhere else in Palestine, both are built on someone elses land and country for foreign people who dont originate here.

13 ) Jesus / Spain
26/12/2010 14:43
Unbelievable!!! ... but what can we expect...???

14 ) Mike / UK
28/12/2010 12:09
Palestine is for the Palestinians. Period. End this farce that has caused nothing but death, misery & destruction!

15 ) James / USA
13/12/2011 23:25
Please do not think the idiocy portrayed by our government is reflection of the people of the US. 90% of the country is fully aware that Israel is a Zionist Terrorist state. WE DO NOT SUPPORT YOUR "GOVERNMENT" OUR "GOVERNMENT" DOES. Most of us have no love for the Khazarian pigs that call themselves "jews" they are not the people of god. They are the Synagogue of Satan.

16 ) matt / usa
15/12/2011 00:48
James, thanks for proving that anti-Semitic rage is still alive and well

17 ) Ramsey / usa
15/12/2011 18:14
Wats messed up really is that Matt u only focus on wat James said. Ur right all I can make of from James comment is Antisemitism. But I m surprised ur not commenting on the article itself with blatant racism from the mayor. Antisemitism actually since Arabs are Semites. I doubt people in the our corner of the world, even our country the us, realise at all that small detai...

18 ) kathy / usa
15/12/2011 20:08
Matt, and your espousing the haterd of the birth of Jesus is o.k.?

19 ) Joe Dibsy / U S A
16/12/2011 01:26
I came to America as a teenager,My Father decided to immigrate after Israel stole our Land and My grand Fathers home.We all became refugees.The Dammed British Government gave our country to the Zionists.Before 1948 war all the people of Palestine lived peacefully to gather including Jews.Some Day Justice will be Done.
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