Yo Little Town

When Comrade Bear began his current tour of the Middle East, he thought he was just checking in with a few allies, planting his red-white-and-blue banner in the Holy Land, and (re-)asserting Russia’s standing as a global power.   His noble gesture did not go unnoticed or unrewarded:

Mahmoud Abbas told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the mayor of Bethlehem had decided to name a street in the city after Putin because it would show how much Palestinians value Putin and the Russian people.

Putin [later noted] that the names of politicians should be given to streets by a future generation in honor of those who have passed away, adding that he “would like to live a bit longer.”

“It was absolutely unexpected. To be honest, I am at a bit of loss but there’s nothing you could do,” [Putin] said, indicating he did not want to protest so as not to offend his host.

But don’t think for a moment that all the official adulation went to Comrade Bear’s head –he took care to demonstrate his keen awareness of a higher power.

Putin visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem upon arrival in the Palestine National Authority on Tuesday.  Just like any other believer the president entered the church through the Gate of Humility, which is a very low door.  At the entrance to the church His Eminence Archbishop of Jordan of the Jerusalem Patriarchate Theophylactos and other clerics welcomed Putin in English, presenting to him a Star of Bethlehem sign made by Palestinian masters on behalf of the Palestinian people [as a gift] to the president and a pilgrim.
Putin bowed to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, saw the manger of Christ the Savior, and also visited a Franciscan monastery, which is situated in the same building with the Church of the Nativity.

Next stop: Israel, where official business matters occupied the day and obligatory ecumenical matters consumed a portion of  the evening hours.   Comrade Bear toured the Wailing Wall under the guidance of  Berl Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia.

Then, on to Jordan for a chat with King Abdullah II, where refreshingly frank conversation can be expected.  

There is rest for the weary … on the other side of Jordan.  O, there iiiiis rest.

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