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Bethlehem arrangement roils Aussies

Australian Jews are upset that a Sydney council is planning to formally adopt the Arab town Bethlehem as its sister city.

Marrickville Council is due to ratify the arrangement with Bethlehem, believed by Christians to be Jesus’ birthplace, on June 19 after having a relationship since 2001 with the West Bank city. The matriarch Rachel, according to Jewish tradition, is buried there. A councillor told Australia’s Herald Sun that Bethlehem had been chosen as a symbol of love, peace and harmony, but Jewish leaders are quick to point out that the Bethlehem council is controlled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad members.New South Whales Jewish Board of Deputies Chief Executive Vic Alhadeff expressed concern that the partnership with Bethlehem could give Hamas members a platform to spread their views in Australia, where some have noted an increase in anti-Semitic sentiments. Alhadeff also said he was worried that Marrickville funds could end up supporting Hamas.