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The TV news Christmas morning was hopeful and optimistic: Large numbers of Christian pilgrims were once again able to travel to Bethlehem, (located 6 miles South of Jerusalem inside the disputed “West Bank”) in relative safety “for the first time in years“, trumpeted just about every major network news broadcast both here and in the UK.

Fighting in and around the historic Biblical birthplace of Jesus had diminished in 2007 to the point where it was once again safe enough for hundreds of thousands of Christians wishing to visit The Church of the Nativity to do so.

So went the story on network after network. ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC-America, all telling essentially the same Associated Press story of “Christmas Returns to Bethlehem”. Hurrah, hurrah! Three cheers for the Bush Doctrine! A wellspring of peace appears to be spreading across the Middle East! Violence has diminished so much in Bethlehem, it is safe enough for tourists! Violence is down in Baghdad as well (back down to 2005 levels, due in part to ENTIRE CITIES now ethnically cleansed), Iraqi’s are returning to Iraq (because they are going broke, forbidden from working in the countries they evacuated to), and now even violence between the Israeli’s and Palestinians has diminished to a point where it is safe enough for tourists…

Just don’t look too closely.

“This is the largest number of Christian tourists to visit Bethlehem in seven years!” claimed both the news and residents of Bethlehem.

Seven years, hmm? That would be 2000, wouldn’t it? Bill Clinton’s final year in office? So the great “victory” of the Bush Doctrine has been to bring violence in the West Bank back down to pre-Bush levels.

But even if the recent reduction in Israeli/Palestinian violence was due in any part to President Bush’s “Peace through violence” ideology, a trend of diminished violence over just the past few years would be a positive trend that, if it continues, would eventually vindicate Fearless Leader… except that it isn’t & doesn’t.

The reduction in violence in and around Bethlehem that once again renders it safe enough for tourism, can best be attributed to the enormous 24′ tall concrete “security wall” separating Bethlehem from embattled Jerusalem.

So when you hear Bush Administration officials in the coming days taking bows for Bethlehem once again being “safe enough for tourists to visit”, just remember: It was safe enough for hundreds of thousands of Christians to visit BEFORE George Bush became President, and the recent reductions have NOTHING to do with the administrations policies, but everything to do with Israel constructing a concrete wall around the city.

 

Manger scene carved in olive wood by Palestinian artist Talfiq Salzar, depicting The Three Wise Men unable to reach the baby Jesus, blocked by a Security Wall:
Wise Men behind the Wall

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