by Ryan Jones
[Editor's Note:  All media, electronic and print kept requesting the story of how sad it was in Bethlehem "due to presence of the IDF."  THIS IS A TOTAL LIE.   Read below.]

For the second consecutive year, PLO chief Yasser Arafat was banned by Israel from attending Midnight Mass  in Bethlehem, commemorating what millions believe to be the birth of the Jewish Messiah and the central figure of the Christian faith.

Ignoring the fact that Arafat is a professed and practicing Muslim, Arab leaders around the world have lamented the Palestinian leader's inability to join in the festivities in the biblical Judean town that saw the births of both King David and Jesus.

As a Muslim, and therefore someone for whom Christmas is an ungodly practice, it must be deduced that Arafat's primary interest in Bethlehem's Midnight Mass lies in the glittering PR opportunity it affors him.  For during the holiday season, the eyes of much
of the Christian world turn to Bethlehem, providing Arafat with a broader than usual audience before which he can vilify his arch-rival - Israel - and present himself as the defender of not only Muslim, but also Christian rights in the Holy Land.

Arafat's past attendance at this televised Christian rite bears witness to this fact.  Since 1995, the Muslim chieftan has made an appearance at the ceremony every year but the last two, each time taking the opportunity to say a few unkind words about his Jewish neighbors and make the ludicrous claim that Jesus was in fact a "Palestinian" before a worldwide audience.  His goal is
clear - to gain temporary Christian support in his efforts to drive Israel from its biblical homeland by portraying himself as a representative of both the Muslim and Christian faiths, and the protector of the holy places.

The "Israeli occupation" is a "constant Calvary" in which the Jews continue to "crucify the body of Christ in the land," Arafat
and his henchmen typically declare during this holiday season.

The program put in motion by Arafat and his Palestinian Authority to strip Jesus of His Jewishness and lay claim to the Christian holy sites and observances in the Holy Land has been laid bare over the past seven years by statements such as these.

Many a Palestinian, both from the Muslim and Christian ranks, however, would point out that Arafat did not miss much by not attending Christmas 2002 in Bethlehem, as the holiday was marked more by gloominess and despair than by festive merrymaking.

For this dismal situation, the Arabs are quick to point an accusing finger at Israel and the IDF's presence in Bethlehem up until December 24th.

"Christmas with a curfew, miliary jeeps, and fear?  I find it illogical and unaccpetable, especailly right here in Bethlehem," the Christian Science Monitor quoted one Palestinian girl as saying.

The fact that there were no twinkling lights, ringing bells or decorated trees, however, has little to do with the presence of Israeli soldiers - who went out of their way to facilitate the holiday despite warnings of terrorist activity in the area - and everything to
do with Muslim intimidation.

"Everyone is afraid, no one dares to say anything.  We don't know who ordered the city not to decorate a Christmas tree and not
to light lights and play music, but [Palestinian officials] have been telling us every evening on TV that we should not celebrate except go to church because Palestinians everywhere are suffering," a young Palestinian woman told the Jerusalem Post.

The woman who remained unnamed for fear of being killed, went on to answer her own questions, saying that Palestinian
terrorists from all factions had threatened the local Christian residents, and told them not to decorate or make any outward signs
of celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem.

Israeli District Liaison Officer head Lt.-Col. Moshe Madar reported that Arafat had ordered officials in Bethlehem to not hang Christmas decorations in order to emphasize the suffering of the Palestinians when the eyes of the world turned to the Judean town. 

"This is yet one more example of the cynical use by the PA of the Christmas holiday," Madar said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

The events that have taken place in the birthplace of Jesus since the PLO takeover in 1995 make it clear that the Muslims of "Palestine" are well prepared to make sardonic use of Christian symbolism and holidays in their effort to defame Israel, but in reality have no more tolerance for Christianity than they do for Judaism.
Courtesy of Jerusalem Newswire, December 25, 2002
Distributed by Freeman Center for Strategic Studies 
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"He was born a Jew, He lived a Jew, He died a Jew, and He resurrected a Jew.
He is alive and Jewish now, and forevermore the same."