Saturday, December 28, 2013

Globe Xmas Gift: Little Town of Bethlehem

Hard to get to:

"Life on the ground for Palestinians has not changed since the UN recognized their state last month in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, had to enter the biblical town through a massive metal gate in the barrier of towering concrete slabs Israel built between Jerusalem and Bethlehem during a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in the last decade. The Israeli military controls the crossing.... Foreign tourists heading to Bethlehem must pass through Israel or the Israel-controlled border crossing into the West Bank from Jordan"

"In Bethlehem, Palestinians celebrate new ‘birth’; Patriarch hails UN recognition, talks of statehood" by Dalia Nammari  |  Associated Press, December 25, 2012

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Christmas Eve was an especially joyous one for Palestinians this year, with the hardships of the Israeli occupation that clouded previous celebrations eased by the United Nations’ recent recognition of an independent state of Palestine.

RelatedFuel shipment arrives in storm-battered Gaza

Finally, and what is with the f***ing snow on the ground?

As they do every year, thousands of Christians from the world over packed Manger Square in Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus in this ancient West Bank town....

[They were] reminded that life on the ground for Palestinians has not changed since the UN recognized their state last month in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, had to enter the biblical town through a massive metal gate in the barrier of towering concrete slabs Israel built between Jerusalem and Bethlehem during a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in the last decade.

Did it say work will set you free above it?

The Israeli military, which controls the crossing, said it significantly eased restrictions for the Christmas season....

Oh, that was so nice of them!

On Monday, hundreds of people greeted Twal in Manger Square, outside the Church of Nativity. The mood was festive under sunny skies, with children dressed in holiday finery or in Santa costumes, and marching bands playing in the streets.

After nightfall, the packed square, resplendent with strings of lights, decorations, and a 55-foot Christmas tree, took on a festival atmosphere as pilgrims mixed with residents. A choral group from the Baptist Church in Jerusalem performed carols on one side of the square, handing out sheets of lyrics and encouraging others to sing along. Vendors sold balloons, cotton candy, and corn on the cob, bands played Christmas songs, and tourists packed cafes that are quiet most of the rest of the year. Pilgrims from around the world wandered the streets, singing and visiting churches....

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also visited Bethlehem on Monday and said ‘‘peace will prevail from the birthplace of Jesus, and we wish everyone peace and happiness,’’ according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel issued a Christmas greeting, too, wishing Christians ‘‘a year of security, prosperity, and peace.’’

Christmas is the high point of the year in Bethlehem, which, like the rest of the West Bank, is struggling to recover from the economic hard times that followed the violent Palestinian uprising against Israel that  broke out in late 2000.

Tourists and pilgrims who were scared away by the fighting have been returning in larger numbers.

Last year’s Christmas Eve celebration produced the highest turnout in more than a decade, with some 100,000 visitors, including foreign workers and Arab Christians from Israel.

See: Slow Saturday Special: Israel's Christian Soldiers

The Israeli Tourism Ministry predicted a 25 percent drop from that level this year, after last month’s clash between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Foreign tourists heading to Bethlehem must pass through Israel or the Israel-controlled border crossing into the West Bank from Jordan....

In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the traditional Christmas Eve Mass in a St. Peter’s Basilica that was packed with the faithful....


"Pope’s Christmas message calls on Syria to end killings; Pontiff also talks of problems in China, Mideast" by Frances D’Emilio  |  Associated Press, December 26, 2012

VATICAN CITY — In the ancient Bethlehem church built over the site where tradition holds that Jesus was born, candles illuminated­ the sacred site and the joyous sound of prayer filled its overflowing halls.

Overcast skies and a cold wind in the Holy Land did not faze worshipers in the biblical West Bank town. Bells pealed and long lines formed inside the fourth-century Church of the Nativity complex as the Christian faithful waited to see the grotto.

Their Palestinian hosts, who welcome this holiday as the high point of their city’s year, were especially joyous this season, proud of the United Nations’ recognition of an independent state of Palestine just last month....


A year later and we have a new Pope:

"Pope Francis lauds Jesus’ humble start" by Frances D’Emilio |  Associated Press, December 25, 2013

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has dedicated much of his papacy to drawing attention to the plight of the poor, of children, and of other vulnerable members of society....

Francis, who turned 77 a week ago, walked briskly up the main aisle of the basilica for the ceremony, which began Tuesday 2½ hours before midnight. Keeping with the theme of humility he has set for his new papacy....

The Argentine-born pope has also encouraged his flock to be a joyful church, and he called Jesus ‘‘the light who brightens the darkness.’’

In the world’s history and our own personal history, Francis said, ‘‘there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows.” He added ‘‘if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.’’

On Wednesday, Christmas Day, Francis will deliver his Christmas message meant for the world....

Earlier, in the Holy Land, thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations, bringing warm holiday cheer to the biblical birthplace of Jesus on a cool, clear night.

The heavy turnout, its highest in years, helped lift spirits in Bethlehem as leaders expressed hope the coming year would finally bring the Palestinians an independent state of their own.


Israel's Slow-Motion Genocide in Occupied Palestine

That map on the right was back in 2005. That means there is even less green now. I don't see how you create a two-state solution, even with land swaps.
Looks like the only solution to me.
‘‘The message of Christmas is a message of peace, love and brotherhood. We have to be brothers with each other,’’ said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, as he arrived in town.

That made me smile.

Palestinian dignitaries greeted Twal at the entrance of Bethlehem. His motorcade crawled through the town’s narrow streets as he stopped to shake hands and greet the throngs of visitors. It took him nearly 90 minutes to make the short trip to the Church of the Nativity, where thousands of people were gathered ahead of midnight Mass. 

I think I'll do a midnight Mass tonight.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, were among the dignitaries expected to attend the service.

Excited tourists milled about the town’s Manger Square, stopping in restaurants and souvenir shops and admiring a large, illuminated Christmas Tree. Marching bands and scout troops performed.

Will Green of New York City, along with his wife, Debbie, and their 2-year-old daughter Daphne were among the crowds of people who greeted Twal’s motorcade.

Green said that being in Bethlehem for Christmas was a dream come true. ‘‘All the stories that we grew up with. It’s here. It’s part of our life. We heard them in the family, school and church. This is the birthplace,’’ he said.

Green slowly pushed a stroller and his wife held their daughter as they followed a crowd toward the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.


"Despite conflicts, the bells ring on in Bethlehem" by Mohammed Daraghmeh |  Associated Press, December 24, 2013

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition: ringing the bells of Bethlehem.

Twice a week, Khadir Jaraiseh climbs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. He pulls the ropes of four bells in a rooftop tower a total of 33 times, the number of years Jesus was believed to have lived.

Jaraiseh rings the bells for prayer services of the Armenian Apostolic Church, one of three denominations that administer the basilica, one of Christianity’s holiest shrines. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox denominations at the Nativity church — each of which has its own set of bells — have switched to automatic bell-ringing.

But there’s something special about the traditional approach, said Jaraiseh, who uses both hands and a floor pedal to pull the ropes.

‘‘I feel like I’m making music and talking to God,’’ said the 22-year-old, who has worked at the church for four years and is studying to become a tourist guide. ‘‘There is nothing better than working in the place of Jesus’ birth.’’

Jaraiseh rings the bells two days a week, and an older colleague covers the remaining five days. During the Christmas season, his task is particularly enjoyable, he said.

His rooftop perch offers a view of old stone houses and cobblestone alleys in the center of Bethlehem.

On Sunday, patches of snow were left on rooftops, remnants of a rare storm that hit earlier this month.

Still not melted?

Much of the church was covered in scaffolding, as part of urgent repairs of a leaking roof — the first facelift in 600 years. Below, Manger Square was filled with tour groups, including visitors from India and Africa.

But the postcard-like vista is disrupted by Israel’s West Bank separation barrier in the background. Around Bethlehem, the barrier is made of ugly gray cement slabs, one of the many manifestations of the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel portrays the barrier as a defense against militants, while Palestinians say it’s an excuse for another Israeli land grab.

The conflict is ever-present in the Palestinian territories, even during the Christmas season, though not always acutely felt. Tensions have dropped in recent years, the United States is making a new attempt to broker a peace deal, Bethlehem hotel rooms are booked through December, and the number of visitors is rising steadily.

On Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas referred to Jesus as a “Palestinian” messenger of hope.

Palestinian officials said Abbas used the term in a historic context, applying to all those in the Holy Land at the time, regardless of religion.

Few scholars dispute that Jesus was raised as a Jew.

Maybe, but Palestinian DNA is closer to him than usurping Khazarian converts. Sorry.

Abbas’s e-mailed comments appeared to be part of an effort to reach global public opinion and strengthen links between the Palestinian and Christian narratives.

Says the global ma$$ media microphone of Jewish narrative. Wow.

Jaraiseh said Christmas remains the highlight of his year, despite the political situation. ‘‘We wait for it, it’s a happy day and we feel happy, regardless,’’ he said....


Israel's Christmas gift to Gaza:

"Israel launches strikes after civilian death; Attacks kill girl and injure 10 across Gaza Strip" by Ibrahim Barzak |  Associated Press, December 25, 2013

GAZA CITY — Israeli air and ground forces launched attacks Tuesday on targets across the Gaza Strip, killing a young girl and wounding 10 in response to the deadly shooting of an Israeli civilian by a Palestinian sniper.

There was never any evidence that the sniper was Palestinian; the fact that the police never caught him leaves the implication that he was in fact Jewish, if the event even happened at all. That's the way we must view the report in the early 21st century. 

Who benefits from the casus belli?

It was the heaviest burst of violence in the volatile area since November 2012, when Israel and Hamas’s rulers engaged in eight days of heavy fighting.

I never got around to posting those articles, and likely will not.


Six Zionist Companies Own 96% of the World's Media
Declassified: Massive Israeli manipulation of US media exposed

I just wanted you to know why I may be dumping the drafts. Then again, I may not. I may post them in the form of a memory hole. In any event, may Palestinian souls rest in peace.

The sudden flare-up threatened a cease-fire that halted that fighting and which largely has held up for the past 13 months.

“I recommend to Hamas not to test our patience and to assert its authority,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. “If there isn’t quiet in Israel, there won’t be quiet in the Gaza Strip.”

The Israeli military said aircraft, tanks, and infantry targeted “terror sites” in Gaza, including a weapons-manufacturing facility, “terror infrastructure,” and a concealed rocket launcher. “Direct hits were confirmed,” it said. 

Not anything new.

Palestinian officials reported at least 16 Israeli attacks, causing loud explosions across the territory in rapid succession. Hamas ordered its forces to evacuate offices and compounds and redeploy to safer sites. Hamas Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra said an airstrike in central Gaza killed a 3-year-old girl and wounded three relatives, including two young siblings. In all, 10 people were wounded, he said. He said an earlier report of a second death was wrong, and that the wounded man was in serious condition at a hospital.

All terrorists, right?

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned what he called “cowardly” Israeli attacks. “The occupation will not terrify the Palestinian people by these actions and will not punish our resistance and will not halt its readiness to respond to any attacks on Gaza,” he said.

See: We Will Not Go Down

Israel launched the airstrikes shortly after a Gaza sniper shot an Israeli civilian laborer as he performed maintenance work on the border fence. The man was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

That occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting the nearby town of Sderot, a frequent target of Palestinian attacks, to inaugurate a new rail line.

Wow, what a COINCIDENCE! Smells like another Zionist false flag to me!

“This is a very severe incident and we will not let it go unanswered,” Netanyahu said. “Our policy until now has been to act beforehand and to respond in force, and this is how we will act regarding this incident as well.”

Cui bono? What are there peace talks scheduled somewhere?

In New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bloodshed and called on all sides to preserve the November 2012 cease-fire. “The secretary general rejects all actions targeting civilians and calls on all concerned to exert maximum restraint and to prevent another cycle of bloodshed,” his office said in a statement.

I swear Zionist Jews can only go so long without sating their taste for Muslim blood.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, expressed hope that the quiet would be restored, but said the military remained ready for any scenario. “We’re not looking for an escalation on the border with Gaza,” he said. “But we’re not willing to have shots fired at us from across the fence, killing our civilians.”

But Palestinians are just supposed to except it?

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies. The sides have engaged in frequent fighting since Hamas, an Islamist militant group committed to Israel’s destruction, seized power of Gaza in 2007.

Once again we are told a lie that the jewsmedia knows is a lie. Hamas has said they would accept a deal negotiated by Abbas and put to a referendum amongst Palestinians, and they didn't seize power. They won an election, thus becoming the legal government.  

How can I ever believe anything in my jewspaper ever again?

Israel has carried out two large-scale military offensives in Gaza in response to heavy rocket fire, in early 2009 and last year.

The 2012 operation ended in an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.

By Morsi, who is now out and the crossing to Gaza have been sealed by the illegitimate Egyptian government.

While both sides have largely observed the truce, it has been tested by periodic rocket and mortar fire out of Gaza and retaliatory airstrikes. Salafist extremists opposed to the cease-fire have been behind most of the violence. But Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all attacks out of its territory.

That's like holding Obama responsible for all murders by police in the United States.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s shooting.


Israel recently discovered a pair of smuggling tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel that it said were built by militant groups planning to stage attacks.

Another post I may or may not get to soon.

Tuesday’s attack was the latest in a series of violent incidents. An Israeli policeman was stabbed Monday outside a West Bank settlement, hours after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in southern Israel.

On Sunday, a pipe bomb authorities believe was planted by Palestinian militants exploded on a bus in central Israel, moments after the vehicle was evacuated. The powerful explosion, which caused heavy damage to the empty bus, was the most serious attack inside Israel in more than a year.


In a reflection of the tensions, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate in Jerusalem ordered American employees and their families to avoid shared minibus taxis that operate in Israel. It said the ban would remain in effect for two weeks while officials “assess the security implications” of the bus bombing.


The Israeli attacks have continued, but nothing since from my Globe.