By Andrew Friedman
Nazareth city officials said Thursday that no Christmas celebrations would be held in the Israeli-Arab city, traditionally considered by Christians to be the birth site of Jesus, in order to protest US President Donald Trump announcement last week that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam, who is a Muslim, said in a statement that Trump’s statement spurred him to cancel the celebrations in solidarity with the Palestinian Authority. “This is the natural reaction to a decision that impacts our nation and Jerusalem,” Salim told a conference in the city. “We are part of one single people…” and Trump’s comments removed “all the joy” from the holiday period.
Christians are actually a minority in Nazareth, where 69% of the residents are Muslim and only 30.9% are Christian.
Brotherly Covenant, a local organization that promotes Arab-Israeli identity and encourages Arab citizens to serve in the IDF, called the decision a “cynical move to take advantage of Christian residents” that would harm Christians both in Israel and around the world.
“(Cancelling the celebrations) will harm the city’s economy as well interfaith relations. We plan on asking the finance minister to look for ways to transfer funds away from the City of Nazareth in favor of groups that work to mark the holidays as well as for co-existence,” the group said.