- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez tells Hispanics to vote and ‘punish those’ who oppose amnesty
- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
- Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
- White House takes credit for drop in unaccompanied children at border
- International crises be damned, Obama’s fundraising trip must go on
Palestinians’ yule statehood gambit
‘Celebrating hope’ is subtle message amid Bethlehem tourism season
Question of the Day
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — At Christmastime, the world looks to Jesus’ traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, and this year the Palestinians hope to use some of that attention to boost their quest for independence.
They are trying to be subtle about it, with just a hint of politics in this year’s Christmas slogan, “Palestine celebrating hope,” a veiled reference to their bid this fall to win U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.
Organizers say they did not want to be overtly political for fear of putting off foreign pilgrims in search of a religious experience. Some 90,000 foreign visitors are expected to throng the Church of the Nativity and adjacent Manger Square in December, including 50,000 during Christmas week.
“We want to use this opportunity to convey a message to the world that we have hope of having our own independent state, and we need the international support for that,” said Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes. “Since Christmas is a religious occasion, we can’t use direct political slogans.”
Volunteers will distribute postcards with the Christmas motto in the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born.
Visitors then can mail them at the Manger Square post office, using Palestinian stamps, another symbol of the state in the making.
Members of a tour group from Britain and Canada heading into the Church of the Nativity on Dec. 6 had mixed feelings. Some, like 37-year-old pilot Mario Savian from Ontario, said they did not like injecting politics into Christmas.
“I want to see people in Palestine find a peaceful solution,” she said.
“We hope that the Palestinians will use the holiday season as a time to think and that ultimately they will soon expeditiously return to peace talks,” he said.
As part of the campaign, the Palestinians also offer pre-Christmas media tours to highlight Bethlehem-area settlement expansion and the disruption caused by Israel’s separation barrier that surrounds the city on three sides. Israel announced or approved plans for thousands more apartments for Jews in the Bethlehem area in recent months.
“This Christmas will be an opportunity to show the real threat to the city of Bethlehem - the settlement enterprise and the wall that separates the city from its twin, Jerusalem,” said Ziad Bandak, an Abbas adviser on Christian affairs.
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Humanists seek support from Congress on military chaplains
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Big milestone for Britain's little prince
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq