Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What really happened in Bethlehem this Christmas?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/12/what-really-happened-in-bethlehem-this.html

This AP account doesn't look even faintly reminiscent of the "Jews crucifying Christ" scenario painted by Kevin Woodward, does it?? ( see Hark the Wall Street Journal Sings, Jews are doing terrible things! BEP! BEP!)
 
Last update - 11:41 25/12/2007    
 
Tourists crowd Bethlehem for Christmas festivities 
 
By Associated Press  
 
Gloom was banished from Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem for the first time in years on Monday as Christian pilgrims from all over the world flocked here to celebrate Jesus' birth in an atmosphere of renewed tranquility.
 
After Israeli-Palestinian fighting erupted in 2000, nearly all of the people milling around Manger Square in the center of this biblical town on Christmas had been local Palestinians. But this year, city hotels were packed with tourists. Tiago Martins, 28, from Curitiba, Brazil, said he was visiting Jesus' traditional birthplace for the first time after new peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians reassured him he'd be safe.
 
The idea that it's a Christian city makes me more calm, and I think going to the West Bank is more comfortable since Annapolis," Martins said, referring to the Mideast peace conference held in the U.S. last month. He spoke as he prepared to cross into Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
 
Priests and monks, tourists, Palestinian families and Palestinian police mingled in Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity, the site where tradition holds Christ was born. Vendors hawked beads, inflatable Santas, roasted peanuts and Turkish coffee, as city residents watched the festivities from balconies and rooftops. A four-story tree, strung with white lights, hung with red and gold globes and topped with a yellow star, towered outside the church.
 
Children and teenagers strolling through the square wore red-and-white Santa Claus hats, and on occasion, full Santa regalia. Balloons bobbed from vendors' stands and strings children clutched in their hands.
 
Palestinian scouts, some wearing kilts and berets adorned with pompons, marched through the streets playing drums and bagpipes.
 
In Manager Square, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greeted visitors with a message of hope that his peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will bring about an independent Palestinian state in the coming year.
 
"We hope that this year will be the year of independence for the Palestinian people. God willing, this will be the year of security and stability and economic prosperity for the Palestinians," he said.
 
Meanwhile, the call to prayer that flowed forth from mosque loudspeakers filled the air in a reminder of the Holy Land's prominence for the major monotheistic religions.
 
"If you can't be with family, it's good to be here where it all went down," said David Collen, 23, of Hickman, Nebraska, who is studying Middle Eastern studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
 
Police presence was heavy, and before celebrants started flowing in, bomb squads walked through the streets sweeping cars and buildings for explosives. In the square, police carried rifles and batons.
 
Tourism, the economic lifeline in this city of 30,000, has been battered by Israeli-Palestinian clashes, the complex of towering concrete walls and fences Israel is building to separate itself from West Bank Palestinians, and infighting among rival Palestinian factions.
 
But this year, with the lull in fighting and resumption of peacemaking, Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh predicted about 65,000 tourists would visit - four times the number who trickled into town for Christmas 2005.
 
This year is much better than the last seven years for tourism, said shopkeeper Jacques Aman, whose wooden handicrafts shop offered crosses, rosaries and nativity scenes. The atmosphere is better in general. There is relative calm, from the security standpoint.
 
Still, unmistakable signs of the conflict that has killed more than 4,400 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis in the past seven years made it clear that peace was not yet at hand.
 
Concrete walls measuring about 8 meters (25 feet high) enclose Bethlehem on three sides - part of the separation barrier Israel says it's building to keep out attackers from the West Bank.
 
Aman, the shopkeeper, said the barrier continues to hurt business. And Palestinian officials allege that the enclosure, which dips into the West Bank, is a thinly veiled land grab.
 
Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Roman Catholic Church's highest official in the Holy Land, could only reach Bethlehem after passing through a massive steel gate in the barrier. Israeli mounted policemen escorted Sabbah, in his flowing magenta robe, to the gate, and border police clanged it shut behind him.
 
Inside Bethlehem, Sabbah delivered a politically charged appeal for peace and love in the Holy Land - and independence for the Palestinian people.
 
"The Holy Land is a land of war and conflict, and a land of humiliation of one people at the hand of another, said Sabbah, the first Palestinian to hold his position. God wanted this land to be a land for all - Jews, Christians and Muslims, he said. Every state that is established in this land, be it Israeli or Palestinian, must understand the sweeping nature of this Holy Land, in order to be able to host whoever lives here."
 
In the impoverished Gaza Strip, festivities in the tiny Christian community of 3,000 were decidedly muted.
 
Once, Christmas had been marked by a decorated tree in Gaza City's main square, colored lights strung across the plaza and Christmas carols ringing out from loudspeakers. But this cheer evaporated with the outbreak of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in late 2000.
 
The grimness only deepened this year with the assassination of a prominent Christian activist, Rami Ayyad, after Islamic Hamas militants overran the coastal strip in June.
 
There were few outward signs of celebration, and an austere midnight mass was planned at the city's only Roman Catholic church.
 
Hamas has denied involvement in Ayyad's killing and vowed to find those responsible for his slaying.
 
Early Monday, hundreds of Gaza Christians lined up at the passenger crossing into Israel, hoping to cross over to the West Bank to celebrate in Bethlehem. Many who hoped to leave said they wouldn't return.
 
Israel said it would allow in 400 Christmas celebrants from Gaza.
 
Source


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/12/what-really-happened-in-bethlehem-this.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



<< Home


FREE EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION
Subscribe to
ZNN
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by groups.yahoo.com


Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israƫl in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israpundit
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Z-Word
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
UN-Biased
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Zionism
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
Liberticracia
CNPublications
SEO

Reference
Zionism
Anti-Semitism
Anti-Zionism
Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Bible
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Islamism
Jihad
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Israel
Jew
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism
Russian

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Experimental
Isfake lobby
Mysterology

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products
Mezuzah

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory