NBC Relays Palestinian 'Propaganda' from Bethlehem During Christmas

On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, during a report recounting the gathering of Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, correspondent Martin Fletcher relayed Palestinian complaints about Israel, and gave attention to the display of an anti-Israel publicity stunt set to coincide with the occasion taking advantage of a Christmas tree theme.

(Video below)

 

After recounting the celebrations and noting that the overwhelming majority of the city is now Muslim, Fletcher cited complaints about the Israeli security barrier that was built to thwart terrorist attacks that were commonplace a decade ago. Without giving any details on the prevalence of suicide bombings and shootings by Muslim extremists that emanated from Bethlehem during the Second Intifada - attacks that dropped substantially after the construction of the barrier - the NBC correspondent only vaguely noted that the "wall" was "built to stop terrorists." Fletcher:

This is a day of great celebration here, of course, but there's one thing the people of Bethlehem can never forget: They're surrounded by a wall. The wall which Israel says it built to stop terrorists looms over much of the town. Even the Catholic leader in the Holy Land - come to preside over Christmas in Bethlehem - must pass through it.

As he introduced the report, anchor Lester Holt even noted that the collection of pilgrims in town for Christmas was the "highest turnout in more than a decade," without mentioning that the Second Intifada revolt by Palestinians occurred about 10 years ago and no doubt was a major reason that many pilgrims would have chosen to stay away.

Fletcher then turned his attention to a Palestinian activist who used the Christmas tree theme for a publicity stunt in which she produced a structure in the shape of an Israeli military watch tower and decorated it with objects in the shapes of military items:

MARTIN FLETCHER: And while the 50-foot Christmas tree in Manger Square symbolizes peace, Rana Abesharah builds a different kind of tree.

RANA ABESHARAH, PALESTINIAN ARTIST: It's Christmas time, and it's a good time to raise our voice.

FLETCHER: Her tree is like an Israeli watch tower. Her ornaments are barbed wire, stun grenades, tear gas cannisters, a key - she says, the key to the homeland - and the presents, pillows to symbolize, Abesharah says, a home for the refugees.

ABESHARAH: It's part of our therapy to speak about it and see it visually.

While Fletcher's report included Muslims and Christians apparently getting along in the historic city, he neglected to mention the ongoing threat of violence that Christian residents have had to endure from Muslim extremists who have driven many Christians to leave the area.

Fletcher ended up acknowledging the propagandistic nature of the Palestinian message as he concluded the report:

Christmas in Bethlehem - for some a platform for propaganda, for most a day of joy and hope. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Bethlehem.

Below are video and a complete transcript of the report from the Saturday, December 24, NBC Nightly News:

 

LESTER HOLT: And in the birth place of Jesus, tens of thousands of worshipers have descended on Bethlehem tonight, the highest turnout in more than a decade. And NBC's Martin Fletcher is there.

MARTIN FLETCHER: Midnight mass in the birth place of Christ, Bethlehem traditional Christmas message of peace for all mankind heard live around the world. 50,000 pilgrims expected in Manger Square.

LAUREN WHITNEY, TOURIST: It's a great place to spend Christmas because it's where Christmas began, and we feel blessed to be here.

FLETCHER: The Christians aren't alone. The Muslim call to prayer can't be ignored. There are far more mosques in Bethlehem than churches. Three out of four people who live here are Muslims. These girls show off their traditional dress.

GROUP OF GIRLS: Merry Christmas!

FLETCHER: This is a day of great celebration here, of course, but there's one thing the people of Bethlehem can never forget: They're surrounded by a wall. The wall which Israel says it built to stop terrorists looms over much of the town. Even the Catholic leader in the Holy Land - come to preside over Christmas in Bethlehem - must pass through it. And while the 50-foot Christmas tree in Manger Square symbolizes peace, Rana Abesharah builds a different kind of tree.

RANA ABESHARAH, PALESTINIAN ARTIST: It's Christmas time, and it's a good time to raise our voice.

FLETCHER: Her tree is like an Israeli watch tower. Her ornaments are barbed wire, stun grenades, tear gas cannisters, a key - she says, the key to the homeland - and the presents, pillows to symbolize, Abesharah says, a home for the refugees.

ABESHARAH: It's part of our therapy to speak about it and see it visually.

FLETCHER: Christmas in Bethlehem - for some a platform for propaganda, for most a day of joy and hope. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Bethlehem.