Clifford May: Coal in Israel’s stocking

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[Hat tip, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies]

Clifford May: Coal in Israel’s stocking

In this holiday season, there are journalistic conventions one comes to expect: stories lamenting the commercialism of Christmas; stories summing up the 12 months gone by and predicting the direction of the New Year; and stories blaming Israelis for the problems afflicting the Holy Land.

Reuters, the BBC, McClatchy, ABC News — in recent days, all have run pieces in the last category. But the one that troubled me most appeared in the Wall Street Journal — my favorite national daily newspaper — on Dec. 24. It was written by Ken Woodward, a religion writer whose work I’ve long respected. But in this instance his subject was not religion but foreign affairs, and what he produced was the usual anti-Israeli dogma.

His op-ed was headlined: “The Plight of Bethlehem: Why Christians can’t visit the holy shrines in Jerusalem.” The first thing to note is that, according to Palestinian tourism officials, 450,000 foreigners will have visited Bethlehem by the end of this year — a 50 percent increase over the 295,000 who came last year. Every hotel room was filled. Among the tourists on Christmas Day were 7,000 Israeli Christian Arabs. Fadel Badarin, the chief of the Palestinian tourism police, declared that in 2007 “the tourism situation in Bethlehem was great.”

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