Bethlehem peaceful as Christians celebrate Christmas

Some are attributing the change in Palestinian attitude toward Christmas celebrations to the UN's naming Bethlehem a world historical site. But the tiny city also has a new female mayor who, by most reports, is doing everything possible to encourage the tourist trade. Bethlehem's first female mayor, Vera Baboun, can't walk through the main square of the biblical town without being stopped by admirers. "This is our new mayor, who is turning Bethlehem into one of the greatest cities in the world," a tour guide hollered to a group of Christian tourists passing by the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. Starting with Christmas celebrations - the high point of the year in the town - Baboun is hoping to turn things around in the troubled city. For the past seven years, the Islamic Hamas militant group had a strong presence in Bethlehem's leadership, prompting a cutoff of international aid funds. But they lost their seats in...(Read Full Post)