The holiday tourism industry in the Palestinian Areas is hurting this Christmas season and of course it is all Israel’s fault. Bethlehem hotels usually fill up with tourists from around the world this time of year as Christian pilgrims converge on the city to celebrate the holiday there. Not this year, however.
Of course the media is making “no room at the inn” jokes and analogies. It is also blaming last summer’s war in Gaza for it. This includes NBC News which is reporting that 60% of all hotel bookings that were already made for Bethlehem until the end of 2014 were canceled after the fighting.
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Oh and no one is blaming Hamas for last summer’s conflict.
Instead of Europeans and Americans Bethlehem has had to rely on Israeli Arab tourists to fill the gap, but they do not have as much money to spend there as the foreign tourists do.
NBC quoted a local businesswoman, lelia Sansour, as saying, “Tourism is the only lifeline for the city, so if you care about sustaining Bethlehem’s livelihood it is very very key — economically, politically and culturally. A whole culture that dates back to biblical times is dying.”
Unfortunately no one at NBC bothered to challenge the assertion that the modern residents of Bethlehem have any connection to the city’s Biblical era residents. Nor did it mention anything about the systematic persecution of Christians there since the PA was established 20 years ago.
The Political director of The Huffington Post UK, Mehdi Hasan, posted a blog today headlined, “If Mary and Joseph Tried to Reach Bethlehem Today, They Would Get Stuck at an Israeli Checkpoint.”
Again it is all Israel’s fault. “How would that carpenter and his pregnant wife have circumnavigated the Kafkaesque network of Israeli settlements, roadblocks and closed military zones in the occupied West Bank? Would Mary have had to experience labour or childbirth at a checkpoint?” wrote Hasan.
He then offered some bogus figure of the numbers of pregnant Arab women who supposedly lost their babies after going into labor at checkpoints. No mention, however, of the fact that Arab women from the PA are only going through the roadblocks because Israel lets them get treated in Israeli hospitals.
There are plenty more examples but to list them would be pointless as they all sound the same.