Christmas used to be the season of joy, hope, and renewal, but all that is so pre-October 7. The new Christmas spirit is one of lies, rage, and hate. In that new spirit of the woke twenty-first century victimhood Christmas, the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem has set out a figure of the baby Jesus not in the traditional cradle in a manger, but surrounded by rubble meant to indicate buildings destroyed by the Israelis. Because nothing says Christmas more beautifully than hating Jews, right?
According to a Religion Unplugged report, the Rev. Dr. Munther Ishaq, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, explained: “This is what Christmas looks like in Palestine.” The report adds that “his crèche featuring building debris was a gesture of solidarity with Gaza’s beleaguered civilians caught between Hamas gunmen and Israeli Defense Forces.”
The Religion Unplugged report by Gil Zohar makes no mention of the fact that Gaza’s citizens are “beleaguered” because of Hamas’ massacre of 1,200 Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. Instead, it presents the plight of Bethlehem’s Christians as entirely the fault of the terrible Israelis. Ishaq, whom Zohar further identifies as a “Palestinian theologian,” laments: “Christmas celebrations are canceled this year — for it’s impossible to celebrate Christmas while our people in Gaza are going through a genocide. Usually, it’s Jesus in the manger surrounded by the shepherds, surrounded by the Holy Family Joseph and Mary and the magi who came from the east.”
There is no indication that Zohar challenged Ishaq for his fantastically libelous claim that Israel is carrying out a “genocide” in Gaza. The source for the generally accepted casualty figures in Gaza is the Gaza Ministry of Health, which is controlled by Hamas. To take their figures at face value would be akin to trusting the word of Josef Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry for information about the conduct of World War II. Hamas has a vested interest in exaggerating the number of civilian casualties in Gaza, because it knows how effectively civilian casualties turn international opinion against Israel.
In service of that goal, Hamas has lied repeatedly. On Oct. 19, for example, the total casualty number increased by 307, from 3,478 to 3,785. Yet at the same time, the total number of children killed went from 853 to 1,524, an increase of 671. Nor was that the only time such a thing happened. On Oct. 26, the total number of casualties increased by 481, while the number of children casualties went up by 626. Clearly, the Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza is not too concerned that people will study these numbers closely; the idea is simply to shock and appall people with Israel’s alleged inhumanity, and that is working well enough.
Munther Ishaq is not in Gaza at all, as Bethlehem is in Judea and Samaria, now known as the West Bank. But he nevertheless wanted to claim some coveted victim status for himself and his congregation. “Here we wanted to say,” he explained about his crèche, “that it is as if they are looking for Jesus in the midst of the rubble. We wanted to send a message to the world – a message that while the whole world is celebrating Christmas in festive ways, here in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus where Christmas originated from, this is what Christmas looks like to us.” Zohar tells us that this craven cleric “preached against the IDF offensive from his pulpit at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the adjoining town of Beit Sahour,” but doesn’t say anything about his preaching against the Oct. 7 jihad murders.
Zohar adds that “the sermon followed the IDF’s strike on Gaza City’s oldest active church, the historic St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church. The bombing killed 18 people, injured others and displaced about 400 civilians who were taking shelter in the church complex.” He gives no hint, however, of what even the Washington Post, never a friend of Israel, reported: “The Israel Defense Forces said in an emailed statement that a strike targeting a Hamas control center ‘damaged the wall of a church in the area’ and that it was ‘aware of reports on casualties’ and was reviewing the incident. They declined to provide further information and reiterated, ‘It is important to clarify that the Church was not the target of the strike.’”
Undaunted by facts, secure in the knowledge that his distortions would go unchallenged, Ishaq also said: “Christmas is the solidarity of God with those who are oppressed, with those who are suffering, and if Jesus is to be born again, this time this year he will be born in Gaza under the rubble in solidarity with the people of Gaza.” He doesn’t explain how he reconciles Jesus’ own recorded words with the oft-repeated genocidal statements of Hamas leaders, or the Gazans’ enthusiastic support for Hamas. In the world that Ishaq and Zohar inhabit, the facts don’t matter, only the narrative does. And the hatred for Jews and Israel that narrative is designed to elicit.
EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.