Yes, Virginia, there is an anti-Israel bias, and this is the time of year that it becomes the most virulent. Let us take note of two amazing events in the beginning of the “Israel would make the Baby Jesus cry” season. First, an article in the UK Times that actually points out the bias. But I don’t think it counts, because I think I’ve read positive articles about Israel by Michael Gove before:
It has become almost as much a feature of seasonal journalism as stories about how Nativity plays are being subverted and commentaries on how commercialism is snuffing out the true meaning of the festival.
This year weâ€™ve already had our first exercise in demonising Israel for its treatment of Bethlehem with the graffiti artist Banksy enjoying extensive coverage for his trip to decorate the security barrier near the town with his work. The message of Banksyâ€™s work and the coverage it has generated is the same: oppressive Israel has snuffed the life out of the town where the Prince of Peace was born. Herodâ€™s spirit lives on, even as the spirit of Christmas is struggling to survive.
The truth is very different. The parlous position of Palestinian Christians, indeed the difficult position of most Christians across the Arab world, is a consequence not of Israeli aggression but of growing Islamist influence. Israel goes out of its way to honour sites and traditions sacred to other faiths while the radicals who are driving Palestinian politics seek to create an Islamist state in which other faiths, if they survive at all, do so with the explicit subject status of dhimmis. But when it comes to Israelâ€™s position in these matters itâ€™s still a case of O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see them lie.
Next, we have the AFP pointing out that in spite of the separation fence “walling off” Bethlehem (and thus making the Baby Jesus cry), Bethlehem tourism is up 60%. And please note that the reason for the drop in tourism is mentioned five paragraphs down, but never seems to make it out of the news ghetto into the lead.
Tourism to Bethlehem has risen 60 percent in the run-up to Christmas, despite Israel’s separation barrier turning the birthplace of Christ into a “big prison”, its mayor said on Tuesday.
In his annual address as the small West Bank town — whose economy has been decimated by violence — prepares for Christmas, Victor Batarseh said tourism to Bethlehem had grown 60 percent in the past three months.
“In January 2007, 18,509 tourists visited the city of Bethlehem and starting September 2007, the number of tourists started to increase,” he said.
There were 64,420 tourists in November and “we are expecting even more this month,” the mayor said, attributing the increase to churches abroad projecting an image of safety and encouraging Christians to show solidarity and visit.
Before the Palestinian uprising broke out in September 2000, nearly a million tourists and Christian pilgrims visited Bethlehem each year.
Funny. You’d think the real reason for the lack of tourism—the Palestinians shooting and stabbing and blowing people up—might actually be the reason mentioned for the dropoff in, say, the lede. But then, you wouldn’t be a mainstream news editor. You’d be a blogger.
He slammed Israel’s separation barrier, which has sealed Bethlehem off from nearby Jerusalem helping to exacerbate high unemployment caused by dwindling tourism, Israeli closures and limits on Palestinian work permits.
“The cradle of our Lord Jesus Christ has turned into a big prison,” the mayor said.
There you go! The winner for Best “Makes the Baby Jesus Cry” Award goes to: The mayor of Bethlehem, who cannot admit that the reason there are so few Christians in Christianity’s birthplace is because they’ve been driven out by Muslims. (The AFP article refuses to acknowledge that as well, blaming the flight of Christians on Israel.)
And the usual crowd of idiots are in Bethlehem blaming Israel for all the world’s ills.
This is “Santa’s Ghetto,” an ongoing collaborative graffiti project that has evolved into the biggest artistic assault on Israel’s separation barrier and the latest hope among Bethlehem’s leaders to draw tourists back to this troubled town during the Christmas season.
Led by the enigmatic British artist known as Banksy, painters from around the world are adding works daily to the walls around Bethlehem in an attempt to draw attention to the impact the separation barrier has had on life in the Biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The mayor of Bethlehem, he sure knows his talking points.
“I hope people will come visit because I don’t see how things can change for the citizens of Bethlehem as long as the wall is here,” Batarseh said.
“It’s excellent artwork,” he added.
And the McClatchy newspaper group, it sure knows its propaganda points.
Like the rest of the West Bank, Bethlehem was ravaged by the five-year Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 and saw hundreds of Israelis killed in suicide bombings and thousands of Palestinians killed in military raids.
That’s the final paragraph.
The media spin continues.