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Is it the Christ-mous spirit or a harbinger of good news for the real world?

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Only from NY Times, as usual!:

On the West Bank, First Glimmers of an Economic Revival

BETHLEHEM,

In this handout...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It might seem obvious that in the days leading up to Christmas this city, which lives in the hearts of Christians worldwide, would become a tourist magnet. But only six years ago the Church of the Nativity was the site of a five-week standoff between Israeli troops and armed

Yet there are more tourists in Bethlehem this year than at any time in a decade, and their presence signals something beyond the Christmas spirit: life for West Bank Palestinians, oppressive and challenging though it remains, seems to be making substantial, if fragile, improvement.

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials report economic growth for the occupied areas of 4 to 5 percent and a drop in the unemployment rate of at least three percentage points. The Israelis report that in 2008 wages here are up more than 20 percent and trade by 35 percent. The improved climate has nearly doubled the number of tourists in Bethlehem and increased them by half in Jericho.

It is not just tourists. The Bethlehem Small Enterprise Center, financed with German aid, has been open for eight months and busy, helping printers improve their software and olivewood craftsmen their marketing.

I  feel the irony in the notion that signs of economic renewal should turn up at the end of this annus terribilus 2008 Bethlehem of all places!!!!!

Greek Orthodox Monastery of Temptation overloo...
Image via Wikipedia
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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/12/23 at 10:55

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