As the Christian world celebrates Christmas, and as Christians in Palestine and in Israel celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, the Chief Rabbinate in Israel recommended that hotels and restaurants in the country should refrain from displaying Christian symbols. The Rabbinical “Lobby for Jewish Values” started recently a campaign targeting restaurants and hotels that decorated their buildings for Christmas, and its chairman, Ofer Cohen, said that the lobby is considering a boycott campaign against these businesses.
The lobby raises the issue every year around Christmas in an attempt to stop entrainment places from displaying Christian festivities, while this year a source at the council said that businesses that refuse to comply could have the Kashrut certificate revoked.
The issue raised concern among Christian leaders while Israel’s Foreign Ministry received a number of complaints from the Vatican and other world leaders.
The Vatican called the Israeli embassy asking for clarifications. The embassy also received calls from a number of groups, including Christian media outlets and Congress members.
Following the complaints, Oded Weiner, director-general of the Chief Rabbinate, received a call from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and said that this issue is only a recommendation to the hotels and restaurants.
But he also said that although this is a non-binding proposal, and although it is improper not to display Christian symbols, yet “such symbols could offend members of other faiths”.