Lebanon bans a Christmas carol from TV because its lyrics refer to Jesus as the “King of Israel”. Isn’t ignorance both frustrating and sad?

Bambi would like to thank the friend who just kindly shared the story underlying this post with her.

How ignorant can you be to ban a Christmas carol from TV because of its lyrics that refer to Jesus as what he is, the”King of Israel“, as mentioned in both the Bible and the Qu’ran. Indeed, the reference to Israel is spiritual and historic. It has nothing to do with politics, the Modern Israel, and the Middle East eternal conflict.

Banning a famous Christmas prayer-carol like the First Noël is both stupid and authoritarian. The artist is right: this has nothing to do with the Palestinian cause or with the current reality that Lebanon is still officially or legally in a state of war with the neighbouring Israel (contrary to many Arab counties with recent normalized ties).

Bambi has posted this song on her blog. Thus, in this post, she wants to imagine that the embedded video is a TV screen in each household of her birth country where this beautiful song has played during the Christmas holiday and where people are free to either listen to it or to change the channel if they get “triggered”.

In solidarity with Ms. Cynthia Karam and Mr. Bruno Tabbal, Bambi will share their song again, in addition to showing her earlier post again at the end of the current one. Last but not least, she will share what looks like a Facebook (or Meta) open letter, which was also released by Ms. Karam to the media. Her text is in Arabic, but with the help of her friend Mr. Google Translate, Bambi translated it to English for you.


The Surveillance [of the General Security] banned “The First Noel” on TV screens.

Yes, the news hit like a thunderstorm. We were informed, one day before the eve of Christmas, that the committee to which the Gregorian video clip was transferred (in order to obtain the usual permission to broadcast it on Lebanese TV channels) wished to “delete the phrase born is the king of Israel” and the reason: “for lack of misunderstanding”!? ….

Let’s put everything in its proper context. The First Noel is a traditional English medieval Gregorian chant first recorded in 1823 in the collection Gilbert and Sandy’s Carols.

The First Noel is one of the world’s most famous Christmas anthems and has been performed by a number of world famous artists such as Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Maraya Carey, Whitney Houston and others.

The video clip was filmed in a Lebanese village and in the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation. It shows the piousness of Cynthia Karam and Bruno Tabbal in the context of the Christmas prayer and then placing the baby Jesus in the cave, thus expressing the essence of the religious meaning of Christmas and its human dimension. The question being asked? What in this context is favoured over “misunderstanding”??? Let’s go back and explain what needs no explanation: The phrase king of Israel has no connection to any political meaning! It is found in the Bible and means “King of the Jews”. And everyone, everyone, knows that.

This phrase appears more than 27 times in the Bible. And to mention the example: Nathanael answered him and said to him, “Teacher, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” John 1:49 “Let this Messiah, King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Mark 15:32 “And you, O Bethlehem, the land of Judah.[…] For from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” Matthew 2:3 As for in the Holy Qur’an, Surat Al-Isra’, the second verse: {1} And We gave Moses the Book and made it a guidance for the children of Israel, that you should not take a proxy besides Me. {2} The surah is also known as “Surat Bani Isra’il” because it talks about this people. This is to mention a few examples.

THE FIRST NOEL chant performed at the beginning of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Christmas Mass in the Vatican in the presence of His Holiness the Pope (link: https://youtu.be/Hhrjxix3pAE), and it was performed by Father Peter Hanna (link: https://youtu.be/KlvEbeXMZv0). I also performed it personally at my birthday celebration in 2018, in the presence of His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Bechara Al-Rahi, and the ceremony was broadcast on a Charity TV. Not to mention countless hits on screens, the latest of which was on Christmas Eve two days ago, when it was performed by a young artist on MTV. So, what is required? Replacing this phrase in the Bible with “Occupied Palestine” and asking all fathers, metropolitans, bishops, and the Pope of Rome to delete it and not to pronounce it for “not misunderstanding”?! This is nonsense. So, what is required? Have the word Israel, which means the Jews here, become the monopoly of the Zionist enemy? So why is the Jewish community in Lebanon officially called “the Israelis”, i.e. israélites? And if we in Lebanon do not accept all monotheistic religions, then why was the Magen Abraham Synagogue in downtown Beirut restored? A clear and unfortunate contradiction. What did this oversight achieve?

Nothing. Preventing the Lebanese people from watching a beautiful video clip on TV on Christmas eve, which is purely Christmas-related, did not achieve anything. The clip has been on YouTube for two weeks, and it was shown twice or more a day for a whole week on MTV before we stopped showing it out of respect for the decision issued by General Security. We are under the law, even if it is unjust. The clip spread and achieved the required success without registering any objection from any party or any “misunderstanding”. The Lebanese are not idiots who need a “guardian to think for them”. The problem is not with the oversight body, which I have been dealing with for more than a decade, and they are among the kindest, most respectful, and positively cooperative people. The problem is with the idea of censorship that is not in keeping with the times and technology. We have repeated that over and over again. Today, with the “click of a button”, we can obtain any information without an intermediary or observer. The problem is with discretion and old laws and committees that do not match the thought of this time and the development of humanity in addition to technologies. We need to update it to keep pace with this era and to be effective, unlike what the First Noel video clip censorship did not accomplish. In addition, we see a very big difference between censorship and people, as I repeat that the clip won great admiration and no objection was recorded. Censorship is in one place, people are in another, and it is clear that the Lebanese are not ignorant, as they are “aware” and fully aware of the context of this video clip and its true meaning.

So, today I am addressing this oversight body and all the respected curators behind it through this publication, which I consider an open letter, asking them to reconsider this unfair and wrong decision that harms their credibility and the reputation of our beloved Lebanon. I repeat and repeat the clip circulated through the Internet and achieved the required spread and success. The request to reverse the ban is only to support the right that we all thirst for. Our country is going through a collapse at all levels. We need great awareness, solidarity and unity to correct matters in all fields, and we must always raise our voice to correct mistakes and “missing steps”. The silent about the truth is a dumb devil.

Thank you.

L’Orient Le Jour

Annahar Newspaper | جريدة النهار

Elfann.com – أخبار الفن والمشاهير

LBCI Lebanon

Al-Akhbar – جريدة الأخبار

MTV Lebanon


Ici Beyrouth

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