Nazareth Christmas celebrations not cancelled, says mayor

In an about-face, the Muslim mayor of an Israeli town clarifies that only three artists’ performances have been called off instead of the major cancellations announced last week.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

With Christmas just a week away, Nazareth is filled with tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims. As such, the announcement made last week by the city’s Muslim mayor, Ali Salam, that the municipality was cancelling Christmas festivities, was greeted with more than dismay.

Salam’s original decision to cancel the Christmas celebrations this year was his way of protesting President Donald Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,

In a video clip made by Reservists on Duty, a nonpolitical organization made up of Israeli reserve combat soldiers and officers who felt it was their duty to expose and counter the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Christian Arab, Jonathan Elkhoury, spoke forthrightly about how Christians in Israel felt about Salam’s declaration.

“Again, Christians are suffering because of extremist Muslims and Arab leaders who decide what they can and can’t do,” Elkhoury said.

Perhaps in recognition of economic realities, Reuters reported Saturday that Salam denied that he had planned to stop a major portion of the pageantry. “I don’t know why people thought there would be cuts to the celebrations,” he told the news agency. “Everything except for three singers who will not be coming will be held as normal. We have already welcomed 60,000 people to the city today.”

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The Nazareth municipality also put out a statement declaring, “The cancellation only applies to artistic performances on stages….Christmas season in Nazareth is the season of good and blessing and we are completely vigilant that commercial interests won’t be damaged.”

The traditional lighting of the huge Christmas tree was never in danger, he said, while the weeklong Christmas market and street fair will continue through December 20th. The annual procession through town, with youth groups marching and people dressed up in colorful costumes – including, of course, that of Santa Claus – will take place as usual on Christmas eve.