Christmas clip banned due to words ‘king of Israel’ taken from scripture

The song The First Noël may (most probably) date from the Cornish Middle Ages, but it has not escaped Lebanese censorship in modern times. The singers Bruno Tabbal and Cynthia Karam have just made the bitter experience of it. Unsuspectingly, they interpreted this famous song known throughout the world in a Christmas clip “supposed to bring joy to the Lebanese in this season”, underlines Cynthia Karam. However, the famous song ends with “Born is the king of Israel”, in which this name does not refer to the current hostile neighbor of Lebanon, but to the Hebrew people, the people of Old Testament. In the New Testament, the expression is sometimes used to designate the Messiah*.

Bruno Tabbal, who is also the producer of the clip, tells L’Orient-Le Jour that it had already been on YouTube for two weeks when he decided to offer it to television channels. “For him to appear on TV, we need authorization from the censorship department of General Security,” he continues. We thought it would be a mere formality in the case of such a well-known Christmas carol, so much so that MTV started playing the clip before we even got the document. But the answer was slow to reach us. Ten days later, we learn that the clip went through a “committee” whose nature we are not told, and the SG asks us to modify the terms of “king of Israel” so that they are not “ misunderstood”, we are told, under penalty of not obtaining the necessary authorization. It was Christmas Eve. »

Once the holiday frenzy has passed, Bruno Tabbal publishes a long message on Facebook in which he details the meaning of this expression in the Scriptures (with examples) as well as the history of the song The First Christmas itself, which dates back hundreds of years and can in no way contain a modern political reference.

“The LBCI reacted very quickly, broadcasting the clip despite the lack of authorization, and devoting a report to the question, continues Bruno Tabbal. And it was through their reporter that we learned that the “committee” in question, to which the clip was directed, is none other than the Catholic Information Center, which we found all the more incomprehensible. »

Would the Catholic Information Center have made a recommendation not to grant permission for the clip? This is what its president, Father Abdo Abou Kassem, formally denies to L’Orient-Le Jour: “The clip came to us from the SG with the following question: is the expression king of Israel present in the Gospel and do you use it? I answered him in the following way: this expression exists especially in the Old Testament. For our part, we prefer to use other expressions like Son of God, which are more general than king of Israel, since we consider that Jesus came for the whole world. »

But how do you ask artists to alter the lyrics of a centuries-old song and why think they might be misunderstood? “We have in no way recommended any modification of the lyrics, and even less a ban on the clip, we only answered a question, the SG made its own decision”, insists Father Abou Kassem.

Asked about the case by the OLJ, a source from the SG defends itself from any “attack on freedoms”, affirming that “all we have asked for is the modification of an expression which could be misunderstood by part of the public, in a country where everything is controversial”, without answering the question of the relevance of such a request in the case of an old traditional song. On the Catholic Information Center, this source is content to say that it “did not give an opinion”. She also confirms that permission is not granted until the expression has been changed.

Result of this plunge into the absurd: a song, which we have all listened to hundreds of times, often by choirs in Lebanon for that matter, suddenly takes on suspicious appearances that the thousands of voices who have sung it through the centuries were a thousand miles from suspecting. And a consecrated expression, which went completely unnoticed on YouTube, is highlighted by a controversy that is surprising to say the least.

Even if the clip is actually on television, Bruno Tabbal claims to respect the decision of the SG, while emphasizing its unfairness. However, he intends to send the case to the Maronite Patriarch Béchara Raï.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, chapter 1 verse 49: “Nathanaël answered him: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel”. » In the same Gospel, chapter 12 verse 13, passage that we read on Palm Sunday: « Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel! »

The song The First Noël may (most probably) date from the Cornish Middle Ages, but it has not escaped Lebanese censorship in modern times. The singers Bruno Tabbal and Cynthia Karam have just made the bitter experience of it. Unsuspectingly, they performed this world-famous carol in a Christmas clip “supposed to bring joy to…

Christmas clip banned due to words ‘king of Israel’ taken from scripture