Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

It's season of goodwill to all except Israel

Christmas is a time that brings out the best in many people and also time when many give to charity. Yet over recent years it has become increasingly a time for organisations and individuals to release scathing diatribes with the now annual mention of Bethlehem - notably blaming all its residents' ills on the state of Israel.

One such article appeared on Christmas Eve - 'Merry Christmas, war is over (unless you live in Bethlehem)' by Eamon McCann who obviously couldn't resist the opportunity to have another bash at Israel which he alludes to as "a host of vengeful thieves". This was is in relation to Jewish housing in the Bethlehem vicinity which he cites as "illegal under international law".

One law higher than that of man is God's. Modern revisionsts try to position King David's ancient town of Bethlehem as being "in Palestine", yet when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream after the family had fled to Egypt to avoid King Herod, the Angel instructs: "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the Land of Israel."

I think as a New Year resolution we should use the name that God uses, namely Israel, rather than man-made modern labels such as 'Palestine' named after the Philistines, Israel's ancient and most bitter foes. Bethlehem, too, is in 'Judea' - not the often-used 'West Bank' which conveniently erases its inextricable Jewish link.

Mr McCann states that mothers are "forced to stand endless hours at checkpoints", yet when I visited Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Hebron in the 'West Bank' in late October, all the checkpoints we passed onboard a local Arab bus were completely unmanned and we did not get stopped once all the way from east Jerusalem.

Perhaps Mr McCann needs to update his information before he lambasts the Israeli security precautions set in place to ensure safety from the unrelenting terror attacks which regrettably emanate from the heart of Bethlehem.

COLIN NEVIN

Bangor, Co Down

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