Barak Ravid in Ha'aretz writes a truly bizarre article that discerns anti-Muslim bigotry in this brief talk.
“Today Christian communities throughout the Middle East are shrinking and many of them are in danger,” said Netanyahu, according to the announcement published by his bureau in Hebrew and English. “...this is of course not true in Israel. Here there is a strong and growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country.”Dexter Van Zile in The Algemeiner points out that every Christian knows that Muslim extremists are indeed threatening Christians in the Middle East; it hardly needs to be mentioned.
Netanyahu did not specify in his greeting exactly who is threatening to annihilate the Christians, but it's clear from the wording that he means the Muslims. As he did last year, he emphasized that the Christian community in Israel is large and that it enjoys freedom of religion and freedom to worship, but this year he added a hinted reference to the “Judeo-Christian heritage.”
The reference is to a sensitive term taken from the conceptual world of the rightist-evangelical anti-Muslim wing of the Republican Party.
In fact, by not mentioning the Muslim tormentors of Christians, Netanyahu was going out of his way to make his Christmas message upbeat, not the hateful rant Ravid thinks it is.
Moreover, Ravid asserts that Netanyahu "hints" of the the phrase "Judeo-Christian heritage" and implies that this is an unforgivable anti-Muslim phrase.
In reality, the phrase is not as loaded as Ravid believes it is - it has been used way before modern Zionism.
Netanyahu's actual words can hardly be more innocuous - or accurate. He said "We hope that you will recall the places where Judaism and Christianity emerged." Who but a conspiracy theorist can find offense at that sentence?
Just like Netanyahu doesn't use the word "Muslim," he doesn't use the phrase "Judeo-Christian." Ravid is basing his article on what Netanyahu doesn't say and draws fevered conclusions from what he believes are the secret racist beliefs underlying the message with these omissions!
This isn't the work of a journalist or of a editorialist - these are the ravings of a paranoiac who is determined to see hidden meanings in everything uttered by his imagined enemies.
Finally, it is useful to point out that, unlike Netanyahu's positive message for Christians on the holiday, Mahmoud Abbas' Christmas message was literally filled with explicit hateful attacks on Israel and Zionism, referring to the Jewish state's "injustice and tyranny" and Israel's desire to "Judaize the whole earth." He accuses Israel of "eroding the national and religious culture" of Palestinian Christians. He says that Israel is "tormenting" Palestinian Arabs and making their lives a "living hell." Beyond his explicit message of hate, Abbas further implies that Palestine is only sacred to Christians and Muslims, not Jews.
The contrast between Netanyahu and Abbas could not be starker.
Ha'aretz, of course, has nothing bad to say about Abbas' speech. In fact, it never even reported it. That would upset the narrative of the evil, extremist Netanyahu versus the moderate, liberal Abbas. We can't have that.