In Israel, a higher profile for Christmas
JERUSALEM (AP) — Some Christmas cheer has come to Jerusalem's old city.
On Wednesday, a bell-ringing Santa Claus presented people with Christmas trees while wishing them a Merry Christmas.
He said, "I wish peace for the holy land and all around the world."
Israel has about 110,000 Arab Christian citizens, and a wave of 1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s included between 50,000 and 80,000 practicing Orthodox Christians.
Israel also is home to tens of thousands of Christian foreigners, most of them laborers from the Philippines and African asylum seekers.
In parts of Tel Aviv, where many Christian foreigners live and worship, the streets are full of Christmas decorations, reflecting a flowering of Christianity in the Jewish state's economic and cultural capital.