Bethlehem hotels are full this year and there are more returning to celebrate Christmas. Does this mean all is well. The article from Al Jazeera (26.12.3007) shows that its is not. Smiling Israeli soldiers do not counter the huge barrier separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem. There is also a dwindling Christian population.
Even though there are more in Bethlehem, according to a report by PNN many Christian clergy continue to be denied access to Bethlehem and other places of Christian pilgrimage.
In January 2004 I found Bethlehem empty, the seven of us City Councillors from Birmingham UK were the only guests. I made a video of the Manager of the Bethlehem Hotel welcoming guests. However we had problems entering Bethlehem, being told it was a “war zone”. We found that soldiers had demolished a house. That morning in Jerusalem we had witnessed a bus devastated by a bomb. The house was where the Bethlehem police officer who had detonated the bomb lived. People were sitting around braziers by the heap of rubble. They had not known that this was going to happen. Twelve or so family members were homeless and without a breadwinner. Their story is told on a video I took at the time.