Adelson, Bethlehem, Christian, Christmas, Israel, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jews, Kushner, Middle East peace, Muslims, Netanyahu, Palestine, Peace on Earth, Peaceful co-existence, Pilgrims, Russia, taxation, Trump
Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel clearly to please his mega-donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Trump-Adelson-Kushner long-time friend Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, likely his daughter and son-in-law, and possibly to please some Russian oligarchs. Doing so right before Christmas shows how truly mean-spirited he is, if there were any doubt left. Americans remain either largely ignorant, or oblivious, to the fact that there are still Palestinian Christians.
Painting by Lorezo Lotto, 1523
Jesus was born in Bethlehem due to taxation. They couldn’t avoid taxes like Trump:
“2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…. 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child….” Luke 2, King James Version (KJV)
Handwritten first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem., 1868, By Phillips Brooks, Benson (Louis F. Studies of Familiar Hymns. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1903, p. 3).
By VOA: “Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration Overshadows Christmas Celebrations in Bethlehem
Last Updated: December 24, 2017 1:15 PM, Robert Berger
Palestinian boy and girl scouts kicked off Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem on Sunday with a colorful march through Manger Square. Playing drums and bagpipes, they paraded past a giant Christmas tree outside the ancient Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
But religion mixed heavily with politics in this little West Bank town, which is ruled by the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority. Two big signs in Manger Square declared that “Jerusalem will always be the eternal capital of PALESTINE.” That was a play on words regarding Israeli claims — backed in a declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump three weeks ago — that Jerusalem is “the eternal capital of Israel.”
Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Israelis, it is home to the Temple Mount, the site of the two biblical Temples and the holiest place in Judaism. But the Mosque of Al-Aqsa sits on the site today, the third holiest place in Islam and a national symbol for the Palestinians.
The Trump administration has said its decision on Jerusalem does not mean it is pulling out of the Middle East peace process and that the U.S. would support a two-state solution if it is agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians.
However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmound Abbas says he no longer wants the U.S. involved in peace efforts following its recent decision.
“Trump with his announcement became part of the conflict and not an honest mediator in the Palestinian and Israeli peace process,” said Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman, adding that Trump took the joy out of Christmas.
Salman, a Roman Catholic who was elected six months ago, spoke to VOA in his office in Manger Square, sitting under large pictures of two prominent Muslims: the late and legendary Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat and the current Palestinian President Abbas.
Ironically, Bethlehem today has a strong Muslim majority of at least 70 percent, with only 30 percent Christians. But the mayor noted that the Palestinians are one people, and Jerusalem is sacred to Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike.
“There is no way we can accept Trump’s declaration because it compromises our national principles, our national rights, our national future,” Salman explained. “And everybody in Bethlehem and Palestine refuses and rejects this statement.”
Trump’s decision has sparked violent Palestinian protests in Bethlehem and other parts of the West Bank, scaring many pilgrims away. Salman played down the scope of the unrest, insisting that Bethlehem is not dangerous. Security was tight in the city as paramilitary Palestinian police armed with assault rifles patrolled the cobblestone streets.
“Both the Palestinians and Israelis are making sure that tourists feel safe here,” said Michael Valentine, who came from Brooklyn, New York.
Still, many tourists cancelled plans to visit Bethlehem due to the unrest and turnout at the Christmas celebrations was sparse.
Michael Kumsiyeh sat in his empty souvenir shop in Manger Square and put the blame squarely on Trump. “He makes a problem. He doesn’t make any solution,” asserted the Palestinian, who opened his store 47 years ago. “He doesn’t find any solution for the problem.”
Café owner Hader Kanaan said customers are few and far between. “This Christmas this year is very sad,” he lamented. “No celebration. Nobody [is] happy. [It’s a] bad situation. Everything [is] bad.”
Nevertheless, those who made the Christmas journey to the Grotto of the Nativity were glad they came. “I consider it a favor from God because this is the place that I can touch and sense in my spirit that really Christ was born in Bethlehem,” said Sarah Dauda, a pilgrim from Nigeria. “I have heard about it since childhood but now I can see and touch. Hallelujah, blessed be the name of the Lord.” For pilgrims, visiting Jesus’ birthplace on Christmas is an experience of faith.
But for Palestinians, Christmas is a gloomy reminder that Bethlehem’s message of peace on Earth has not been fulfilled 2,000 years on.“. Emphasis our own. Original here: https://www.voanews.com/a/palestinians-mark-christmas-in-bethlehem/4177168.html