Vision Australia’s 2015 Carols By Candlelight will be performing an altered version of the Christmas classic “The First Noel” to exclude mentions of Israel. The move comes amid concerns that the chorus line “Born is the King of Israel” may be interpreted as a political statement as to the rightful inhabitants of the Holy Land.
The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 remains one of the most controversial events in international political history. To this day a number of governing Arabic political organisations as well as the municipal council of Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west still refuse to acknowledge its right to existence.
In order to head off any unwelcome disputes that might arise about the contentious issue, carols organisers were initially inclined to drop the song from the running order altogether. It was then re-added in an altered form to the list after numerous performers threatened to boycott the event if they were forced to “compromise their art.”
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry have expressed “deep reservations” about the alteration of lyrics to a song about a Christian Festival, but have indicated they would be willing to overlook their objections if the organisers of carols could guarantee there would be no mention of “Three Kings of Orient” in the course of the night.