25 December 2011

Another Christmas at The Guardian

Nu, what did you expect? Of course, some people celebrate, some people riot and some people just traditionally dish out the same old, same old.

And here it comes, another Christmas in Bethlehem according to one Phoebe Greenwood*, direct from the location. But if you think it's about Christmas or even about Bethlehem, you will be mistaken. Of course not, not from the Guardian...

The article is predictably titled If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed.

But first of all I want to declare my personal wish for a Christmas present. One measly** dollar for every time I read in The Guardian the following quote (attributed, surely, to a local priest):

"If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed," says the priest of Bethlehem's Beit Jala parish. "He would either have to be born at a checkpoint or at the separation wall. Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission – or to have been tourists."
Notwithstanding the fact that for this specific Jewish rabbi the powers that be would have found a way to get in. As they have found the way... but a bit later about that.

The rest of the article is totally predictable, and I would like to limit myself to one other quote only:
Father Shomali's outlook is more glum: "When I look down my church register, many of the historic family names from the area have already gone. In 20 years, I think we will have no more Christians in Bethlehem."
Sad, ain't it?

Well, it so happens that this year Ha'aretz decided to publish its own opus on the same place. I mean on Bethlehem. Its title is a bit different: Thousands gather to celebrate Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. And its beginning is a bit different too:
By early evening, the Israeli military, which controls movement in and out of town, said some 55,000 visitors, including foreigners and Arab Christians from Israel, had reached Bethlehem.

Palestinian officials in Bethlehem said that with local tourists included, overall turnout was 120,000 - about 30 percent higher than last year.
Do you believe now that the above mentioned rabbi could somehow squeeze between these throngs? You bet...

And now to that quote from Father Shomali. Of course, Phoebe of the Guardian knows the truth perfectly well, but a reminder from the Guardian's local sibling - Ha'aretz couldn't hurt, could it? So:
The number of Christians in the West Bank is on the decline, and many speak of persecution by the Muslim majority, but always anonymously, fearing retribution.

Christians have even lost their majority in Bethlehem where more than two-thirds of the some 50,000 Palestinian residents are now Muslim.
Yep, Phoebe: and for how much do old tattered half-truths go nowadays in your newspaper? I would like to add to my Christmas wish another buck for Father Shomali's complaint too, if you don't mind.

OK, so I am hanging my (freshly laundered) sock near that oil stove, in lieu of a fireplace. Please, Santa, be a mensch...

(*) In favor of Phoebe: she penned a surprising piece Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas. Check it out. Meryl, in fact, already told about that one.

(**) That was a figger of speech. A dollar is still a dollar, although... oh well.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com


Pisa said...

There's another sparkling gem in the article: "A strip of Israeli settlements built on 18 sq km of what was once northern Bethlehem threatens to cut the city off from its historic twin, Jerusalem". Cut the city...? Ach, the hutzpa of those jews living on the same land where Jesus the jew has supposedly been born.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh yes. Missed that point.

peterthehungarian said...

Not only dear Phoebe and the Guardian - the BBC and the Catholic Church in Britain too.
"The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Vincent Nichols, has offered prayers for Palestinians.
During his Christmas Mass sermon at Westminster Cathedral, Archbishop Nichols focused on 50 Palestinian families in the West Bank who he said faced losing their land to Israel."

And the same time in Abuja....

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yeah, so business as usual.

KatieNorcross said...

Funny how no Christians from Bethlehem are allowed to worship inside the Church of the Nativity on Christmas Eve.  That "honor" is given to Muslim members of the PA and diplomats.

In 10 years there will be no Christians allowed in Bethlehem.  The Church of the Nativity will be redecorated as a Mosque and the PA areas of the "West Bank" will be free of all Christians.  The world will blame Israel and the Jews for this too.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep, the world will do that.

Dick Stanley said...

Hamas canceled Christmas? The Grinch with an AK. Funny how the Christians of the West ignore such things.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, it's because it will be difficult to blame the Jooz. But they will find a way, I bet.