A Seasonal Story From The BBC

It is Christmas, so as is now traditional, the BBC publishes a story which links allegations of Jewish misbehaviour to the story of Jesus:

According to the Christian tradition, shepherds were the first to visit the infant Christ.

These days, about 12,000 families still rely on herding in the West Bank.

The United Nations is warning that their livelihood is under threat, because of drought and Israeli restrictions on their movements.

Mohammed says his ancestors have herded here for centuries.

But now times are hard. There’s been a drought for several years.

If it rains, the rocky hillsides will be green. But now it is dry and bare with very little for the animals to eat.
Goats and sheep in a pen

Mohammed and his family live in an area of the West Bank that is under total Israeli control.

He says it is almost impossible to get permission to build new wells.

“Everything is forbidden, especially anything involving concrete,” he said.

Clearly, the Israeli planning authorities should permit wells to be built which are sufficient to meet the needs of farmers. Are they refusing to do so?

In a statement to the BBC, the Israeli civil administration said it was not aware of requests to build wells in the area – but it was ready to consider people’s problems.

So, where did this story come from?

The United Nations says a whole way of life is under threat.

Hamid Qawasmeh, from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the future for these herding communities looked grim.

“People can’t access the land, they can’t herd as they did in the past,” he said. “We have less and less rainwater every year, so with all these problems combined we are not seeing a very bright future for these populations.”

Because, obviously, Christmas is the time that the United Nations and the BBC naturally focus on the problems of drought and livestock.

And now, the coda to the story:

On a pile of blankets in the corner, his baby grandson, Jihad, lay cradled in his mother’s arms.

It isn’t clear if he will grow up to be a shepherd like his ancestors or if this ancient way of life is slowly coming to an end.

Or, alternatively, they’ll build a well.