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Tens of thousands flock to Bethlehem for Christmas
Tens of thousands of Christians were flocking to Bethlehem on Saturday to celebrate Christmas following a year of political upheaval and change across the Arab world.
As day broke on this not-so-little-town which lies just a few miles south of Jerusalem, locals were busily preparing to welcome thousands of pilgrims who want to see the spot where the Bible says Jesus was born to a couple from Nazareth.
Hotels and guest houses across this ancient town perched on the hilltops were packed to capacity, Palestinian officials said, with more than 50,000 visitors from around the world expected to join in the festivities.
Jewish Extremists Attack Christmas Carolers
BETHLEHEM – Settlers attacked a Palestinian choir bus returning from a carol concert in Nablus on Saturday evening, choristers told Ma’an.
The singers, from Bethlehem Bible college, said five men attacked them on a quiet road outside of the northern West Bank city.
“A rock smashed through the window, and glass shattered everywhere inside,” chorister Saleem Anfous told Ma’an, adding that none of the 25 carol singers was injured.
“We kept driving and starting singing to cheer ourselves up and encourage the choir members,” he said.
“Tomorrow we will continue our carol tour of the West Bank in Jenin, using the same road, and we are afraid. But we are trying to convince the families that God will protect us.”
Hardline settlers have torched mosques near Ramallah, Jerusalem and Salfit since last Wednesday. The latest string of attacks included a rampage on an army base, sparking condemnation in Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu to vow stronger enforcement against lawlessness.
But he rejected a recommendation to classify the Jewish extremists as terrorists, and Israeli lawmakers were set to discuss a law to legalize settlement outposts built on land owned by Palestinians on Sunday.
Extremists amongst Israel’s 500,000 strong settler population in the West Bank and Jerusalem reference Israel’s measures against outposts in their revenge ‘price tag’ attacks, usually directed at Palestinians in the West Bank, but recently spilling over into Palestinian sites in Israel and army targets.
Israel distinguishes between state-sanctioned settlement building on occupied Palestinian land and the wildcat outposts, but the international community says all settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem break international law.
Christmas Trees Are Still Banned in Nazareth Illit
That Christmas tree ban that Shimon Gapso, the mayor of the Israeli town of Nazareth Illit, enacted last year still stands. Around holiday time last year, Gapso proclaimed public display of the Christian symbol as provocative and banned the trees from public squares. "Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen -- not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor," he told the AFP. And he wasn't lying. We asked a local teacher the status of Christmas trees. "Unfortunately, yes. It is banned," Botrus Mansour the General Director at the Nazareth Baptist School told us over e-mail. Though, he also mentioned talk of allowing the trees just in the neighborhoods where Arabs live. "It is where I live," he wrote. "No trees have been decorated here."
Iraqi Christians pray for peace at Christmas
Chaldean Catholic officials have cancelled traditional Christmas Eve midnight Masses in Iraq because of security risks. They said Iraqi Christians will spend Christmas in "great fear" because of the risk of new attacks.
“We have many difficulties because of the situation that there is no peace and no security, permanent security,” said Bishop Mar Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarchate of Babylon, Iraq, of the Chaldean Catholic Church. “So for these days of Christmas and the New Year, we hope to celebrate the feast, but not Midnight [Mass], because there are too many difficulties.”
Bishop Warduni said that, despite many difficulties, for Christians in Iraq, “Our duty is to pray for peace.” He spoke of his prayer during this holy season: “And so we ask the Child of Bethlehem to give us this security and peace, to give us joy and peace, and we cry with angels ‘Glory be to the Lord in the highest heaven, and peace on the earth. We ask him this only, and not only for the Iraqi people, for Christians in Iraq, but for everybody in the Middle East.”
If a person knew nothing else about the soul of Israel this would be enough to condemn Israel.
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
The Jerusalem Municipality is getting ready for the Christmas festivities and is greeting its Christian residents in honor of the upcoming holidays. The city is welcoming Christmas with festive Christmas lights, cleaning up specific neighborhoods, including the Christian and Armenian Quarters and the Christian Holy sites. Mayor Nir Barkat, will honor the Heads of the Christian communities and various congregations in Jerusalem, and wish them a Merry Christmas.
On December 21, 2011 the Municipality will offer free Christmas trees to its
Christian residents who are celebrating Christmas.
Christmas in Tel Aviv has become widely popular over the years. The Christmas in Israel is widely celebrated in various parts of the country. During the Christmas the children are given presents. You will find the entire city decorated with Christmas trees. The restaurants and bars are open till late night and serves special menus for the eve.
Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, will celebrate this Christmas in an eco-friendly fashion with the unveiling of a new 38-foot Christmas tree made entirely of recycled water bottles and other plastic objects donated by its residents and on display in the city’s center.
Christmas is five days from today and The Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) – Jewish National Fund (JNF) is distributing, once again, Christmas Trees to local churches, monasteries, convents, embassies, foreign journalists and the general public.
No doubt you are correct in saying that some israelis are celebrating christmas, whilst the rabbies are praying that jesus is burning in hell. In a tub of steaming hot chit. Personally xmas? Celebrate the birth of the rabbi jesus? lol No thanks.
But this is what religious freedom is all about.
As many of the links in this thread indicate, there is no religious freedom in Israel, unless you're a Jew, even certain types of Jews get lesser treatment... Ethiopians for example.
There are 25,000 Jews living in Iran. When Israel backed a plan to pay Iranian Jewish families $60,000 to settle in Israel, Society of Iranian Jews met the announcement with scorn, issuing this statement: "The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradable for any amount of money. Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran's Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews."
December 25 is birthday to be remembered and it’s not “you know who.” Happy birthday to the Internet, created on December 25, 1990. Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web at Geneva-based CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and he made the first successful hypertext communication 21 years ago on December 25.
Thousands of Christian Palestinians and tourists have celebrated mass in Bethlehem, the town that is considered the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The congregational held in the 1,500-year-old Church of the Nativity, was attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal used the traditional Midnight Mass to welcome in Christmas and urge peace between Israel and Palestine.