Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Pilgrims scarce in Bethlehem, I don't like it but I can't understand the surprise!

First I just want to wish you a merry Christmas! I don't have much time today because I just finished preparing Christmas Dinner and will have to light a fire soon and play host before I lay out Christmas dinner. No politics today!
I did have something I was going to finish putting together for today but in light of something I saw last night. I thought it best to put it aside and discuss Bethlehem today with a very different, confusing to the people there, Christmas season.
West Bank (Dec. 24) - Marching bands, children dressed as Santa Claus and clergymen in magenta skullcaps gathered in the center of Bethlehem on Sunday to celebrate Christmas Eve, doing their best to dispel the gloom hovering over Jesus' traditional birthplace.
In an annual custom, townspeople enacted Christmas rituals that seem out of place in the Middle East.

Palestinian scouts marched through the streets, some wearing kilts and berets, playing drums and bagpipes. They passed inflatable Santa's looking forlorn in the sunshine.
Other acts, however, could take place nowhere else. To get to the West Bank town, Michel Sabbah, the Roman Catholic Church's highest official in the Holy Land, rode in his motorcade through a huge steel gate in the Israeli barrier that separates Jerusalem from Bethlehem.
Israel says it built the barrier to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israeli population centers. Palestinians view the structure, which
dips into parts of the West Bank, as a land grab. The robed was led into Palestinian controlled territory from Israeli controlled territory by an escort of Israeli policemen while armed police closed the gate behind them.
While he is right of course in saying that this Holy land is sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians and they should be working for peace. Our so called leaders have done nothing but worked to make war. Meanwhile Bethlehem is falling apart and it's Religious significance and core is being ignored. The world should take some time to reflect on that on this most important day. Muslims, Jews, Christians, they should all take this time to think about what is really important and what they all are doing to what they say is most important to them, their Holy land, their Holy shrines, and the people who love them.
This Christmas was the first under a Palestinian Authority controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas. As a result even though Hamas has pledged $50,000 for decorating Manger Square. There were fewer Christmas decorations than in the past, and for the first time no Christmas carols were piped over the loudspeaker system.
First I have to say, I can't believe that people over there under these conditions can say it is safe over there, think everything should be normal, and wonder why people are staying away. Standing outside his empty souvenir shop, George Baboul said it was the "worst Christmas" he had seen in more than 30 years. His Bethlehem Star Store is in a prime location, at the side of the Church of the Nativity, but he said there is no business.
No tourists are coming," said Baboul, 72, who opened the shop in 1967. "I don't know what's the reason for that. There are no problems, Bethlehem is safe, but tourists are afraid to come. Despite this Bethlehem's Mayor said the city would celebrate Christmas despite the hardship.
I have to say I am a Christian and do not feel a special connection to Bethlehem as my beliefs are in my heart. However, I am very disappointed that Bethlehem is being disregarded while the 3 religions will only succeed in destroying their own History they claim to love so much.
Despite this and With all this oppression, this economic stress, physical stress, psychological stress, we are defying all these obstacles and we are celebrating Christmas so that we'll put joy into the faces of our children, joy to the citizens of Bethlehem," Batarseh said. "It's Christmas, it's time for joy, hope and peace, and happiness for all," he said.I wish the world, all 3 religions, would take a moment to remember this and think about what they are doing to their own heritage and future.
In the Gaza Strip, where 3,000 Palestinian Christians live among around 1.4 million Muslims, the head of the tiny Roman Catholic community canceled midnight Mass, citing recent gun battles between the Fatah and Hamas movements. Father Manuel Musallem said young Christians in Gaza were scared. "The children told me Santa Claus won't come this year because it's too dangerous," he said.
In closing I again Implore the world and the 3 "great" Religions on this Holy day to take a moment and reflect on what is important in this life and world. remember this is your Heritage, your past you are destroying. This is your future you are endangering. These are your children.
Merry Christmas

James Joiner
Gardner, Ma

No comments: