It has become something of a Christmas tradition for many Western journalists. Bashing Israel has again been in plentiful supply this festive season.
This year it is not just the liberal-left media that has had its fair share of such stories. On Christmas Eve, The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial by Kenneth Woodward, a contributing editor at Newsweek, titled “The Plight of Bethlehem,” in which Woodward – who admitted in his piece who that he hadn’t actually been to Bethlehem in seven years – claimed Israel’s security measures “make it impossible” for Christians to visit their holy shrines.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post website ran a story titled “Christmas in a Strangled Bethlehem” – which turned out to have been written from Qatar.
The truth is that with the Palestinian intifada virtually crushed and Israel’s security barrier making it extremely difficult for terrorists to operate, calm has returned to Bethlehem and this Christmas has been a bumper one for Christians.
Thousands of Bethlehem Christians have visited Jerusalem this December. Even one in six Christians from the Gaza strip applied for and were given a one month travel visa by Israel to visit Israel and the West Bank during the Christmas season. (“Israel Eases Bethlehem Christmas Travel,” The Associated Press, December 18, 2007)
None other than the BBC – which has an almost unparalleled record for Israel-bashing – acknowledges this in an online piece titled “Better times return to Bethlehem.”
This year, the BBC piece notes, “Hundreds of thousands more visitors have come to Bethlehem” – four times more people than in December 2005.
“This year is like 2000,” Palestinian tour guide Adil Dweib tells the BBC, referring to the millennium year, a bumper time for Bethlehem tourism.
“I feel safer here than I do walking down some streets in the UK,” the BBC quotes British tourist Mike Quincy as saying.