Just in time for Christmas.

The town’s Christian population has dwindled from more than 85 per cent in 1948 to 12 per cent of its 60,000 inhabitants in 2006.

There are reports of religious persecution, in the form of murders, beatings and land grabs…

The situation has become so desperate that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, are to lead a joint delegation to Bethlehem this week to express their solidarity with the beleaguered Christian populace.

Palestinian Christians pay the price for Islamist savagery in more ways than one. Tourists can’t get to the town easily because of the wall, which Sharon put up to block the wave of bombers who were using the town as a crossing point into Israel. No doubt the propaganda angle factored into that heavily: get the Jews to fence off Christ’s birthplace and paint it as “apartheid” against Christians. Our useful idiot former president bought it hook, line, and sinker:

[T]he security fence itself is a crime against Christianity, according to Carter; it “ravages many places along its devious route that are important to Christians.” He goes on, “In addition to enclosing Bethlehem in one of its most notable intrusions, an especially heartbreaking division is on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, a favorite place for Jesus and his disciples.” One gets the impression that Carter believes that Israelis — in their deviousness — somehow mean to keep Jesus from fulfilling the demands of His ministry.

No tourists, no money, no future for the community.

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