Christmas cheer and Bethlehem’s economy

How do you know it is Christmas time?

The Europeans always complain that the amount of snow is wrong, whatever the quantity. The shopkeepers are never happy with either the pre or post festivity purchasing stats. And the “spinners” in the Israel-Palestinian conflict begin to bombard the gullible with slanted stats about life in Bethlehem.

Here’s what I mean:

In “New Christmas Story: Bethlehem under Occupation“, the reader is asked to believe that Israel has effectively banned Christianity from Manger Square. Published almost on the same day, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in New York called for a boycott of Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank, as the Jerusalem government must be seen as a brutal occupying force.

Israelis will reply that economic growth in the West Bank is bouncing along at about 8-9%, now that the Palestinian Authority is directing more resources towards proper government and away from violence. And the HRW report can only be described as a pathetic or dangerous whitewash, as “the manufactured allegations erase the context of a protracted and intense conflict, and ignore the legitimate security needs of Israel.”

So what is happening in Bethlehem, Christmas 2010?

The Catholic News Service has just reported that:

With five new hotels in the works, a handful of new souvenir shops opening recently and nearly 40 restaurants able to serve crowds from 100 to 1,000, the Bethlehem economy is showing signs of recovery following the desperate intifada years. For the first time in years, shop owners and tourist industry workers in the birthplace of Christ are optimistic and have confidence in the economy. For most, 2010 was the best year for business in a decade.

And it is an established fact that Israeli and Palestinian tour guides are cooperating, bring trade to each other under a new scheme. In fact, as Israel is completing a boom year in tourism and as around 2/3 of the visitors are Christians, it can be assumed that many have ended up visiting Bethlehem.

Start crawling the net and the evidence from non-partisan sources is that life ain’t too bad in Bethlehem these days. By the way, it should be emphasised that every since the municipal boundaries were reorganised by Chairman Arafat in 1996, the city has been predominantly Muslim.

Led on by the Palestinian PM, the Christmas preparations near their climax. Meanwhile, 15 miles away in Israel, two Christian tourists were attacked , probably by terrorists. One died of her wounds.

Explore posts in the same categories: Israel, Palestinians

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2 Comments on “Christmas cheer and Bethlehem’s economy”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Evelyn. Evelyn said: RT @BuyIsrael: #Christmas cheer and Bethlehem’s economy « Afternoon Tea In Jerusalem #BDSfail […]

  2. […] correct? SKY TV recently reported on the new strengths of the Palestinian economy. Google Bethlehem at Christmas and you will find plenty of info on how Manger Square has been full of tourists this […]

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