Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas (1999)

(1999) Dry Bones cartoon: Christmas under Arafat.
Today's Golden Oldie is from December 1999. Prior to the PLO takeover of Bethlehem, local Israeli TV news crews would cover the dressing up of the Christian city's streets with bright lights and "Stars of Bethlehem".

I used to live in Jerusalem, in neighborhood that was a short drive to our sister city. I'm a sociable sort and soon had a number of Bethlehemite friends that I hung out with regularly.

One day I was in Bethlehem with an American who was visiting the country. I introduced him to a Palestinian businessman who was a close friend of mine.

My businessman friend took me aside. "Why did you introduce me as a Palestinian?!" He demanded. "When I met you" I answered, "you said that you were a Palestinian!". "When you met me" he retorted "you were an Israeli Jew, so of course I said that I was a Palestinian!!". "But now we are friends and you should know that I am not a Palestinian, I am a Christian!!"

The Muslim population has swelled and has since taken over my friend's city. Most of its Christian community has fled or is in the process of fleeing to America's west coast or to Latin America. The pleasant days of arguing with Arab friends over tiny cups of overly sweet coffee in the little town of Bethlehem are long gone ...but I do miss them.

And to my Bethlehemite friends, wherever they may be these days, I wish a very Happy Christmas.

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