Sure, click on the image, see the faces of Happy People!
Manger Square in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve 2006, photo by Footballkickit.
I know it was a Big Mess when I first posted it, but it sort of looked pretty -- well, it looked different. But now I've civilized it a bit.
* * *
What I usually do is wait until Christmas is upon us, and then read some miserable Reuters or BBC or Associated Press story about how the government of Israel made it next to impossible for pilgrims to come to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
And how the merchants, innkeepers and restaurateurs of Bethlehem are being economically strangled and suffocated and are unable to provide decent hospitality to the few pilgrims who have managed to reach Bethlehem.
This time I think Vleeptron will try something different: Starting now, 20 days before Christmas, an e-mail campaign to the Acting Prime Minister of Israel -- and likely the next elected PM -- and ask her NOW to set decent and reasonable policies for the Christmas Pilgrimage to Bethlehem.
I've slicked up my earlier letter, and found PM Tzipi Livni's e-mail address! So if you want to send a copy of this letter, or write your own letter, you don't have to try to decipher that Hebrew webform.
Look, Vleeptron doesn't send you Spam, and Vleeptron doesn't ask for Money, and Vleeptron usually doesn't twist your arm for anything.
But help Vleeptron out for this one thing. Open the barriers to let Pilgrims reach Bethlehem to celebrate Jesus' birth.
In a world and a region of Hate, Fear, Violence, Suspicion and Anger, let's support this moment of Peace / Salam / Shalom, and Goodwill to All Women and Men.
(And barnyard animals.)
Regardless of your feelings about PM Livni or her Kadima party or the government of Israel, think also for a moment about young IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers, drafted/conscripted young schmucks and schmuckeusses, like I once was, in a different army and a different war long, long ago.
Don't make their Christmas an ugly, miserable one of brandishing weapons and following government orders to block Pilgrims from reaching Bethlehem on Christmas. I don't know what the Israeli government wants. But these soldiers don't want to stand in the way and grunt nasty things at Pilgrims who have come from all over the world to celebrate Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.
Someday this region will, somehow, be a Peaceful Place of Respectful Good Neighbors. When, and How, I cannot say. But Someday, in that neighborhood
... they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
-- Isaiah 2:4
Let's hurry that day along. Use this letter, or write your own. Forward this request to everybody you know. Get all your friends and family, of All Faiths, or No Faith At All, to fill up the nice lady's Inbox with our polite requests.
5 December 2008 / 8 Kislev 5769
Tzipora Malka Livni
Acting Prime Minister
Foreign Affairs Minister
State of Israel / Eretz Yisrael
Dear Prime Minister Livni:
I respectfully ask the State of Israel to permit and encourage hospitable, safe, respectful and cooperative transit to all pilgrims of all nationalities to and from Bethlehem during the traditional Christmas pilgrimage season.
I respectfully ask the State of Israel also to support, assist and encourage tourism and hospitality activities and services for all pilgrims to Bethlehem.
I believe these decisions and activities by the State of Israel will yield significant and positive progress toward peace / shalom / salam in the region and throughout the world.
I wish you and your family a Happy Hanukkah, and the peace and goodwill toward all which the Christmas season represents to millions of people throughout the world.
Northampton Massachusetts USA