Christmas Trees Are Still Banned in Nazareth Illit

That Christmas tree ban that Shimon Gapso, the mayor of the Israeli town of Nazareth Illit, enacted last year still stands. Around holiday time last year, Gapso proclaimed public display of the Christian symbol as provocative and banned the trees from public squares. "Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen -- not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor," he told the AFP. And he wasn't lying. We asked a local teacher the status of Christmas trees. "Unfortunately, yes. It is banned," Botrus Mansour the General Director at the Nazareth Baptist School told us over e-mail. Though, he also mentioned talk of allowing the trees just in the neighborhoods where Arabs live. "It is where I live," he wrote. "No trees have been decorated here."

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Following last year's publicity of his ban, including a write-up on this site, Gapso faced plenty of criticism for what many called a racist move. A year later, some reported the ban as new, including this new Facebook page, which popped up December 13, 2011. But we wondered if perhaps Gapso learn his PR lesson? Apparently, not, as the ban has yet to lift.

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And we should've figured. Gapso hasn't had a shining year. Since his "war on Christmas," the mayor has been accused of more racism. There was the time he told a local Arab newspaper that if he had been around during the October 2000 Israeli-Arab clashes, more Arabs would have been killed, Haaretz reported in June. There was also talk of the mayor's indictment for taking bribes (a charge he denied), and allegations that he ordered one of his employees to harass a political opponent.