“A thought for Christmas…If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought …”
That was the Christmas message posted today, along with a depiction of Jesus and Mary, on the official Facebook page of the Israeli Embassy in Dublin.
The message drew immediate criticism from Gary Spedding, an activist with the cross-community Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, and a student at Queens University Belfast, who demanded that the embassy should “apologize for this vile Christmas message of hate and sectarianism.”
Spedding offers further analysis of the posting on his personal blog.
Israeli attacks on Christians and Christianity
The offensiveness of the message needs no further elaboration, but Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem will find it particularly galling given that it is Israel, with its wall surrounding their city, and other violent manifestations of the occupation, which has done most to strangle the home of the Nativity. Recently, Israeli settlers, with the collusion of Israeli authorities, have stepped up so-called “price tag” attacks on Christian holy sites.
Palestinian Christians living under Israeli rule also face widespread discrimination.
The idea of the modern Israeli settler-state providing “security” to Jesus is even more absurd and offensive given the contempt in which Christianity is held by some Israeli officials. Earlier this year Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari tore up a copy of the New Testament and, throwing it in the trash, claimed, “This abominable book brought about the murder of millions of Jews.”
For several years, Shimon Gapso, the notoriously racist mayor of the Israeli settlement of “Upper Nazareth” in the Galilee, has banned Christmas trees, calling them a provocation. “Nazareth Illit [Upper Nazareth] is a Jewish city and it will not happen – not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor,” Gapso said.
Finally, the notion that Palestinians would “lynch” Jesus is also a disturbing echo of the anti-Semitic “Jews killed Jesus” canard.
This is not the first time the Israeli embassy in Dublin has been responsible for messages that are even more unhinged than typical Israeli government propaganda.
In June, Nurit Tinari-Modai, the deputy ambassador, made headlines when she proposed a plan to personally smear Palestine solidarity activists – especially Israelis – to “humiliate and shame them” as suffering from psychological and sexual problems and imply that they work for Israel’s spy agency Mossad.
Update: Israel embassy claims hate message unauthorized
Following the outrcy over its hateful Christmas message (see above), the Israeli embassy in Dublin has deleted the message from its Facebook page and posted an apology claiming it was unauthorized:
To whom it may concern: An image of Jesus and Mary with a derogatory comment about Palestinians was posted without the consent of the administrator of the Facebook page. We have removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!
There’s something disingenuous and unbelievable about this. First of all, how did someone unauthorized get hold of the password or Facebook account of notoriously “security”-conscious Israeli officials? Perhaps there should be an investigation.
Early comments under the “apology” post indicated skepticism about the explanation.
“ ‘An image was posted without the consent of the administrator’ just doesn’t cut it. Are you running this page from a public cyber cafe?” commented Facebook user Zeeshan Shahid.
But of course the other reason the “apology” lacks credibility is that the social media accounts of the Israeli embassy in Ireland have a history of posting bigoted material.
Earlier this year, for example, the @israelinireland Twitter account made an Islamophobic comment suggesting that real Irish citizens could not be Muslims. “Ah yes… those Saladin O’Sullivans and Faisal O’Farrells… #Irish to the backbone!” the embassy tweeted to Irish Times journalist Mary Fitzgerald who had just published a story “on the fighters from Ireland who have joined the Syrian uprising.”
And, as mentioned earlier, there is the bizarre plot by deputy ambassador Nurit Tinari-Modai to malign Palestine solidarity activists as sexual deviants.
If today’s Christmas message was unauthorized, what about all the rest of the hate being spewed by Israel’s representatives in Dublin?