ICC Note: Palestinian Christians face so many pressures. Now in the face of intense economic pressure comes a cry for economic support.
Don’t Abandon Bethlehem , Mayor Urges Christians Worldwide
By Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief
December 14, 2006
For the full story, go to CNSNews.com – The mayor of Bethlehem , a Palestinian Christian, is calling on Christians from around the world not to abandon the birthplace of Jesus — the reason for the season.
Bethlehem , whose main source of income comes from Christian tourism, has suffered severe economic hardship since the beginning of the violent Palestinian uprising in September 2000. It also is losing more of its Christian population — and its Christian identity.
With fewer than two weeks until Christmas, Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh said very few pilgrims have arrived so far. Bethlehem is a safe and peaceful city, said Batarseh. He appealed to Christians from around the world to come to visit.
“The message to our Christian brothers is not to forget, forsake Bethlehem city. We need our brothers to stand in solidarity with us [and]… visit,” Batarseh told Cybercast News Service by telephone.
Fifty years ago, Christians made up some 90 percent of the population in Bethlehem . Now they represent less than half, and the numbers continue to decline.