“If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed', the London Guardian reported this week. And what if Abraham were to visit?
The Guardian article painted a bleak picture of an “Apartheid wall” and military checkpoints that supposedly have stagnated the city of Bethlehem, located immediately south of Jerusalem. This idea was also used by anti-Israel NGO's (see NGO Monitor's "The NGO's that Stole Christmas" posted on Arutz Sheva for details.)
The writer, Phoebe Greenwood, also details the nearby Jewish communities that are “strangling” the city and quotes a Catholic priest bemoaning the exodus of Christians from the ancient city. He neglected to mention that the reason is mistreatment by the Muslim PA.
Many businesses in the communities employ neighboring Arabs, who are able to travel freely while Jews are not allowed into Bethlehem and other “Apartheid” areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Foreign media headlined the alleged problems of Bethlehem – until Christmas Eve, when suddenly there were reports of nearly 100,000 visitors who apparently were able to pass the “Apartheid wall.”
All of the reports from foreign news services, such as the Associated Press, routinely traced Christians’ problems to Israel. “Like the rest of the West Bank, the town fell on hard times after the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation broke out in late 2000,” according to AP.
Justus Reid Weiner, an international human rights lawyer who teaches at Hebrew University, in an interview by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld posted on Arutz Sheva recently, says that Christians lost their majority status in Bethlehem soon after Yasser Arafat assumed control of the Palestinian Authority.
Weiner added that "under these regimes, the resident Christian Arabs have been victims of frequent human rights abuses including intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycott, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion".
“And Muslims who have converted to Christianity are the ones in the greatest danger".
In the previous years under Jewish control, the economy in Bethelhem, as in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, flourished after being suffocated under Jordanian rule, until the Intifada under Arafat. Under Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967, all holy sites were barred to both Christians and Jews, except for visiting dignitaries, until Israel opened up the sites after the Six-Day War in 1967.
Neither the Guardian nor foreign news services noted what would happen to the Biblical Abraham if he were to return today for a visit to the Temple Mount, where he sacrificed a ram after G-d told him not to sacrifice his only son, Yitzchak (Isaac).
After the Six-Day War, Israel recognized Muslim claims to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s most sacred site, but Muslim authorities have used their de facto control to haul out tons of earth containing artifacts dating from the First and Second Jewish Temple, whose existence has been increasingly denied by the Palestinian Authority in specific and the Arab world in general.
Jews are barred from praying on the Temple Mount and are not even allowed to carry any holy articles with them. With Muslim observers supervising visits, police have frequently arrested or removed Jews for various violations, such as singing or reciting a prayer even in a whisper.
The Palestinian Authority has been insistent in claiming that the Temple Mount, as well as all of the Old City, is sovereign PA territory and will be the seat of a country it wants to establish. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has stated that in a Palestinian Authority country, no Jews would be allowed, which would preclude a visit by Abraham to the place that is the foundation of the belief in one G-d.