O Little Town of Bethlehem
Vol: 39 Issue: 25 Saturday, December 25, 2004
The headlines today are all about the miracle of Bethlehem. But it wasn’t about the miracle that a Virgin gave birth to the Savior of the world and the Son of God.
The headlines marveled at the miracle that Christian pilgrims came back to the Church of the Nativity and nobody killed any of them.
That wasn’t exactly the way they put it, but that was what Reuters meant with its headline, “Bethlehem Rings in More Hopeful Christmas.” It had to be, since the only hopeful-sounding part of the story was that, “some pilgrims said they felt a new atmosphere of hope in Bethlehem.”
The Reuters writer didn’t find an atmosphere of hope in his sojourn to Bethlehem, or, if he did, he managed to keep it from creeping into his article. Instead, Mark Heinrich noted that, “Israeli restrictions on Palestinians entering Bethlehem and a barrier Israel is building in the West Bank cast a shadow over the celebrations.”
Bad old Israelis! Imagine putting restrictions on Palestinians entering Bethlehem, just because the last time they were there, they barricaded themselves inside the Church of the Nativity and used the site of Jesus’ Birth as a latrine.
The Reuters article didn’t mention that, but more than half of it was devoted to the ‘restrictive’ Israeli security.
“Sections of the barrier run up to the road entering Bethlehem, lending a forbidding air. Israel says the barrier keeps suicide bombers out of its cities. Palestinians call it a step to annex occupied territory.”
How’s that for ‘fair and balanced’? Israel ‘says’ they are trying to keep suicide bombers out of their cities — hmmm. Suicide bombers have killed hundreds and maimed thousands in their cities, but to Reuters, that sounds like an ‘excuse’.
But the Palestinians say its a step to annex ‘occupied territory’. How’s that for a ‘more hopeful Christmas’?
Under the sub-title, ‘New Hope Tempered by Israeli Encirclement’ Reuters reminds us that, while Israeli troops posted signs at checkpoints leading to Bethlehem greeting visiting pilgrims with, ‘Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year’ “as before, they checked papers of travelers in only one direction at a time, causing long waits as traffic built up.”
While not mentioning the Palestinian terror attacks against Israel a single time, (apart from acknowledged that Israel ‘says’ that’s why they are building the security fence) Reuters made its point by only quoting Palestinians about the hardships the fence causes Palestinians:
“The wall is being built eight meters (26 feet) high around Bethlehem. It’s not easy for us to send a message of Christmas joy to the world when our town is being inexorably encircled by concrete, barbed wire and Jewish settlements,” said Jack Giacaman, whose family has run shops in Manger Square for generations.
Since he’s been there for generations, perhaps he might remember when the Birthplace of Christ did dual duty as a toilet for murderers?
I found it fascinating that, while blaming Israel for the hardships of the Palestinians, and basically exonerating the Palestinians of responsibility for it, Reuters managed to note that the ‘new atmosphere of hope’ (that it failed to articulate) was rooted in the death of Yasser Arafat while keeping the apparent ‘secret’ that Arafat was the obstacle to peace all along.
It is a measure of just how dismal the ‘hope’ for peace really is. The ‘hope for peace’ is rooted in the death of Yasser Arafat, who, mysteriously, managed to become a hero for peace by rejecting any peace offerings, while Israel is transformed an ‘aggressive occupier’ — by building a fence to keep Arafat’s devotees from murdering them in their beds.
Now that Arafat is dead, all bets are on Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s chosen successor, to bring about a peaceful settlement to the conflict.
Reuters quoted Abbas speaking from Bethlehem and telling reporters, “We extend our hand to the Israelis. We want to negotiate, to reach peace — a peace built on justice and right.”
It sounds hopeful enough, but somehow, it has a familiar ring to it.
It sounds familiar because it was lifted directly out of Arafat’s political playbook. In a speech to about 2,000 supporters in Ramallah recently, Abbas spelled out his vision of a ‘peace built on justice and right.’
“What we want to achieve is an end to the whole occupation,” he said. “We want a state on the lands of ’67 and that means we will not concede Jerusalem,” he added.
In order to accept Abbas’ ‘outstretched hand of peace’ Israel must first, according to Abbas, release all 8,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, including those responsible for the murder of Israeli civilians.
Including Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to multiple life sentences for murdering Israeli women and children in a bombing attack.
Unlike its neighbors, the ‘brutal Israeli occupiers’ not only DON’T shoot down people in the street for ‘collaboration’, they don’t even HAVE the death penalty.
(Not even for the Palestinians who literally tore two Israeli reservists limb from limb in a mob attack — after the two reservists sought refuge in a Palestinian police station.)
“Today we have two former prisoners with us,” Abbas added in reference to two former detainees who joined him on stage in Ramallah. “But we want everyone to be a former prisoner — above all else Marwan Barghouti.”
On the issue of refugees, Abbas said he would continue to hold out for an implementation of UN resolution 194, which stipulates the right of return for Palestinians who fled from their homes when the state of Israel was created.
Israel’s birthday is marked by Israelis as “Independence Day”. Palestinians recognize it as well, by its Palestinian name, “Nakba Day” meaning, the ‘catastrophe’.
In his final Nakba Day speech earlier this year, Arafat told his people that the Right of Return was necessary in order to flood Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees, demographically annihilating the Jewish state.
And it was the sacred and inalienable right of the Palestinians to do just that, insisted Arafat.
So, to put it all into perspective, here is a synopsis of what it would take to accept the ‘outstretched hand of peace’ offered by Mahmoud Abbas, the man upon whom the new hopefulness for peace is based.
First, Israel must release all the terrorists it has safely locked away in jail and trust that they will all turn over a new leaf.
After they’ve released 8000 combatants back to the enemy, as a PRECONDTION of peace, then they have to surrender their holiest city, Jerusalem, over to the Palestinians for use as their capital. But peace won’t come yet.
The Israelis still have to surrender their buffer zones between them and their sworn enemies, and take down that security fence that makes it so difficult for terrorists to sneak back into Israel and kill some more of them.
But wait, there’s more!
Having rolled everything back to June 1, 1967, when the combined forces of the Arab world attempted for the third time in 25 years to annihilate the Jewish State, the now vulnerable Israel has one more task to complete, before accepting the ‘hopeful, outstretched hand of peace’ offered by Mahmoud Abbas.
It must let millions of Palestinian ‘refugees’ (and their descendants) move into ISRAEL — and NOT the new Palestinian state. That is a key point to remember.
The Palestinians want their own state, but claim that they can’t absorb their expatriate ‘citizens’ so they demand Israel absorb them instead.
Granting this precondition guarantees Israel will exist as a Jewish State until the next general election, when the new Arab majority votes it out of existence.
So, to recap the ‘miracle’ of the little town of Bethlehem, 2004:
“Pilgrims came, nobody got murdered.”
Peace MUST be just around the corner.