The Burial of Bethlehem
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2)
A few days ago I received this plea from Samuel Dowell, a cry from the heart in the season of joy and peace, as he witnesses the slow motion deathknell of the city of Bethlehem, the city of the Prince of Peace. “Dr. Cook, Bethlehem. I don’t know if any of this will be useful to you, but send it anyway.”
Bethlehem is a pretty graphic example of the ghettos the Israeli authorities are currently creating in the occupied Palestinian territories: latter-day bantustans. Now surrounded by an eight-meter-high concrete wall (dwarfing the former Berlin Wall), the victim of regular invasions (usually unreported in the Western media) by the Israeli military, Bethlehem is struggling for its very survival.
The illegal Israeli (read Jewish) 8 metre high apartheid barrier is designed not for security but the theft of 80% of Bethlehem’s land to build a ring of illegal Jewish settlements. Why is the world so silent? (“Samuel Dowell [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Dependent on tourism for much of its economy – the city of Bethlehem is STRUGGLING AGAINST ALL ODDS. ISRAEL HAS DECIDED TO close most of the city to even Holy Clergy who have churches within. Most businesses are closed down. Jesus’ birthplace is a ghetto.
Here, the indigenous people of Jesus’s birthplace, Bethlehem, Palestinian Christians are humiliated into waiting for Israeli soldiers to check them as they merely move from one town to another. Waiting hours.
The West Bank Wall, by Gilo checkpoint, Bethlehem, December 2007
Today’s Bethlehem is still the City of Jesus’ birth, but wise men could NEVER reach it today, the cruel Israeli apartheid (or separation) wall reeks with discrimination against the Indigenous Christian people of Bethlehem. They are not Jewish, so they are treated with racism.
How magnificent yet how threatening this pall of black clouds that hangs over the city of peace, a veritable shroud of doom and despair as the threat of peace raises the specter of fear in the hearts of the secular Zionists whose purpose is to destroy the faith of brotherly love by denying the message of the Angels of God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.”
How diabolical the wall that rises over the Palestinian who walks beside this cement encasement of the people of Bethlehem, ostensibly a wall to secure the safety of the Jews in this Jewish state by keeping them isolated from the message of the Angels lest the inclusiveness of its brilliance makes the exclusivity of the Zionist Judaism a destructive force that threatens the attainment of peace for all humankind.
How inhuman to cement families behind such forms of fear, grotesque images of human failure where fear of fellow necessitates walling out all who are different, where security exists when one is isolated from his brother, a sister from her sister, when isolation breeds indifference, forgetfulness, an abiding hate of the unknown that blossoms inside the heart like some infectious disease and makes peace impossible.
How horrible that this fear in the deepest recesses of the Israeli state negates the teachings of the Prince of Peace, the baby born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, denying to the citizens of Israel the riches he brought to the whole world: Instruct the ignorant; Counsel the doubtful; Comfort the sorrowful; Bear wrongs patiently; Forgive all injuries; Pray for the living and the dead.
How truly sad that the nation of Israel cannot see their brothers and sisters on the other side of that wall, that they do not wish to see them open their doors to all who wish to worship at the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, that they do not realize the depth of the internal fear roused in the hearts of all who come to that wall, humiliated that they cannot open their hearts to their God without displaying a passport to justify their purpose, knowing that those who “man” the towers and those who, weapons in hand, check them at military points, deny this God of Peace because he is a threat to the truth of their beliefs; perhaps that is the fear that resorts to military might to control, to the power of wealth to force the building of such a monstrous atrocity that symbolically denies humanity its very soul by caging humans in a tomb waiting till the lack of air suffocates the people of Bethlehem.
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