Friday, December 22, 2006

Sad Santa

The Christian Exodus from BethlehemYears ago, when I lived in Jerusalem, I was only a 20 minute drive away from Bethlehem. I'd visit the Christian town 2 or 3 times a week. I made local friends and enjoyed the local food and atmosphere.

After a year or so of hanging out, I introduced a buddy to a Jewish acquaintance as a Palestinian.

Afterwards, my Bethlehemite friend, bristling with anger, demanded "Why did you say I was a Palestinian?!" I said that when we'd first met, he'd identified himself as a Palestinian. His response was "When we first met you were just another Israeli Jew, what did you expect me to say?! Now you are my friend. Now you know Bethlehem. How can you call me a Palestinian?! I am a Christian!!"

Sadly, after the Palestinian takeover of Bethlehem there was no room for a Jewish visitor. Apparently there's not much room left for the Christians either. The Christian population has dropped from 85 - 90% to a shocking 15-20%!!

My friend and his family and probably most of my other Bethlehemite friends have emigrated. Santa won't find their stockings and Christmas trees in the little Christian town of their birth. And I won't be visiting either.

For me, it is a sad and personal story.

The Palestinian Authority blames the flight of Christians on Israel. It's the story that will probably play on your TV screens next week. So check out the following from World News Daily:

"'All this talk about Israel driving Christians out and causing pain is nonsense,' a Bethlehem Christian community leader told WND. 'You want to know what is at play here, just come throughout the year and see the intimidation from the Muslims. They have burned down our stores, built mosques in front of our churches, stole our real estate and took away our rights. Women have been raped and abducted. So don't tell me about Israel. It's the Muslims.' -more"

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