At 11.15 pm on Christmas Eve, the ITV broadcast a programme on Christmas time in Bethlehem as it is today, focussing on the Christian community living in Bethlehem. It will be broadcast again on Boxing Day at 12.15 am.
The content gave on the whole a bleak depiction of the restrictions under which all residents of Bethlehem live, enough to be a welcomely educational dissemination of information about the plight of Palestinians to a mass audience, many of whom would be ignorant of the true horrors of the occupation. There were most certainly emphases in the programme with which those knowledgeable of the true situation would be uncomfortable or angry. There was an insistence of the commentary to say “Bethlehem inhabitants feel that….”, rather than “The blatant fact is that….”. More seriously, Hamas, stated in the film to be the governing authority in the city, was depicted as institutionally anti-Christian.
ICAHD UK tends to take the view that it’s better to have presentations in the popular media of the situation that are sympathetic and educational, but flawed, than not to reach that mass audience. Anyone with an objective sense of justice would watch this programme and realise that things were seriously wrong in Palestine. The same goes for such items as the recent article in the National Geographic magazine.
It is then up to us, who know better, to contact the programme makers/article editors, and encourage them for their output, whilst pointing out the inaccuracies in their stories.
In “telling stories”, in whatever form, that illustrate the human rights abuses going on to a wide audience, the “truth will out”.
ICAHD UK is conscious of the Christian emphasis of stories about Bethlehem at this time, which could be accused of a misrepresentation of the wider Palestinian scene. But in our struggle, we have to reach people by intelligent knowledge of where they are coming from – in the UK, at this time, the obvious vehicle is the Christmas story.