A former Jerusalem correspondent for the Monitor vowed in 2009 that she would never write another Christmas story from Bethlehem – but ended up there anyway, per her editor’s request. She described a bustling, festive city with an Arabic disco version of “Silent Night” playing over the loudspeakers. But street-life was still not as busy as it was before the construction of Israel’s separation wall and the Intifada, she wrote.
The Monitor has had many a dispatch from Bethlehem at Christmastime. In 2006, a correspondent wrote about the tremendous impact that post-Intifada security measures had on holiday travel to the city. Another correspondent traveled there in 2004, as the Intifada was winding down.
The number of tourists making a beeline for Manger Square in Christmas is now on the rise once again as the West Bank became increasingly calm, with the Palestine News Network reporting that 90,000 tourists are expected to turn out on Christmas Eve.