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Sunday, December 28, 2014

If Joseph and Mary were trying to reach Bethlehem today.... UPDATED

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

Here's a great comment in the Washington Post from the Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein. What would happen to Joseph and Mary if they were trying to reach Bethlehem today, before Jesus' birth?
Mehdi Hasan, political director of the Huffington Post, UK, has a post up entitled, “If Mary and Joseph Tried to Reach Bethlehem Today, They Would Get Stuck at an Israeli Checkpoint.”
How would that carpenter and his pregnant wife have circumnavigated the Kafka­esque network of Israeli settlements, roadblocks and closed military zones in the occupied West Bank? Would Mary have had to experience labour or childbirth at a checkpoint, as one in ten pregnant Palestinian women did between 2000 and 2007?
Well, since Joseph and Mary were Judeans, i.e., Jews, from Nazareth, they wouldn’t need to be afraid of Israeli roadblocks needed to combat Palestinian terrorism, but of being murdered by terrorists from Hamas or Fatah.
Seriously, this sort of historical revisionism, treating ancient Jewish Judeans as if they were Palestinian Arabs, and then analogizing modern Israel to the oppressors of Jesus and his family, a common trope in the UK, would be laughable if it were not  so pernicious. Pernicious not simply because it’s a ridiculous distortion of history, and not simply because it’s often accompanied by a large dose of anti-Semitism, with Palestinians playing the role of Jesus and the Israelis being the foreign oppressors crucifying him.  But pernicious because it goes to the true heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict–the failure of the Arab side to recognize that the “Zionists” are not the “European settler-colonialists” of Third Worldist imagination, but a people with a three thousand year plus tie to the Land of Israel, whose religion was born there, who ruled two separate kingdoms there, who have prayed toward Jerusalem for two thousand years in their ancient Hebrew language, and so on.
Read the whole thing. There's a great punch line at the end.


Here's more from Charisma Magazine
First of all, on the approach to Bethlehem, they would encounter a sign telling them that as Israelis, it's illegal and unsafe for them to continue to Area A (under full control of the Palestinian Authority, of which Bethlehem is part according to the 1990s Oslo agreement).
If they proceeded anyway, whether by foot, bicycle, car or donkey—given the current state of affairs—they would likely be met with problems from the get go, including possibly being stoned, firebombed, shot at or lynched. Recent instances of Israeli Jews going into or near other Palestinian Arab communities have played this out.
Yes, the town in which an Orthodox Jewish boy was born a little more than 2,000 years ago has become hostile and inhospitable—and, in fact, dangerous—to Jews today. Yet as much as Jew hatred is common in the region here today, it's not much more hospitable to Christians.
Recently the Pope decried the situation that Christians face from throughout the Islamic Middle East as did the Vicar of Baghdad. Bethlehem is no better.
The 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity by Palestinian Arab terrorists, desecrating the place and the faith, is a distant memory. However, the ideology and thugery behind that remains.
As a result, the town that is not just the birthplace of Jesus but arguably of Christianity, has seen a decrease in its Christian population from 70 percent just decades ago to about 30 percent today. This is not because of Israel's "occupation" or other problems blamed on Israel, but because life in Bethlehem as a Christian is hostile and inhospitable at best, and even downright dangerous.
So glaring is Jesus' absence from Bethlehem this season, one ministry paid to put up a "radical" billboard celebrating Jesus. But they also had to rent a generator and full-time security people because no private companies would provide electricity to light up the sign, and for fear that someone would deface it or burn it down.
What's behind all of this? How is the situation going from bad to worse? I asked a Christian friend who had spent considerable time in Bethlehem until called in by police and told he was at risk and they couldn't protect him. He packed and left, and I drove him to my home where he couldn't be threatened.
Read the whole thing

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