Ne-apropiem acum de prezent. Sigur că între anul în care a fost recucerit Ierusalimul de către musulmani și vremea noastră, s-au întâmplat o mulțime de lucruri. S-au întâmplat, între altele, multele persecuții ale evreilor de către creștini, în toată perioada medievală. Și-apoi, pogromurile de la începutul secolului al XX-lea, în Rusia și în Balcani, care au precedat, într-un fel holocaustul. Apoi, holocaustul însuși, când 6 milioane de evrei (din cele circa nouă milioane care trăiau atunci în Europa) au murit. Asta în afară de țigani, de homosexuali, de iehoviști, de comuniști și de alte diverse minorități.
Să mergem mai departe! Câte ceva despre situația actuală. Hărțile pe care le pun acum înaintea voastră sunt hărți stranii, pe care rareori o să le găsiți în presa noastră. Avem de-a face, mai întâi cu felul în care a fost stabilită harta Israelului, readus în granițele lui, în 1948, dar nu în momentul în care a fost înființat statul evreu, ci imediat după ce a avut loc războiul cu arabii, care s-au ridicat foarte rapid împotriva lor, ca stat nou înființat.
I want to compare between the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem in the first and twenty first centuries. I am a Palestinian Israeli citizen. I live in Nazareth and continually commute to Bethlehem. In fact, this Christmas I am travelling with my family from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There are several roads that lead to Bethlehem. There are three major options: one in the east, one in the middle of the country, and one in the west next to the Mediterranean Sea. I shall call them: the eastern, central, and middle roads. Which road should I choose? My decision depends on the political situation, my identity, the cost of travel, time, and traffic jams. Jews don’t like to travel through Palestinian towns. Palestinians don’t like to travel through Jewish settlements. In addition, there are checkpoints on the way. These checkpoints are a potential delay depending on Identity, that is, Palestinians or Jewish. If Israeli soldiers at certain checkpoints discover that I am a Palestinian then I am a potential risk in their eyes. It means delay in my trip. In short, travelling is a political decision connected to my identity. As I reach Bethlehem, I usually come through a neighboring town called Beit-Jala. At the entrance of the town, there is a big sign saying: Israeli citizens are not allowed to enter this region by law. However, the checkpoint is not guarded by soldiers or monitored. Entering into Bethlehem is not only a political question it is also a legal question. In addition, it is a theological question. Should I break the law to enter Bethlehem? Continue reading “Yohanna Katanacho – The Trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem: Theology Faces Politics”
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12).
What a great grace it is to celebrate the Eucharist in the place where Jesus was born! I thank God and I thank all of you who have welcomed me on my pilgrimage: President Mahmoud Abbas and the other civil authorities; Patriarch Fouad Twal and the other bishops and ordinaries of the Holy Land, the priests, the good Franciscans, the consecrated persons and all those who labor to keep faith, hope and love alive in these lands; the faithful who have come from Gaza and Galilee, and the immigrants from Asia and Africa. Thank you for your welcome! Continue reading “Pope’s homily at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity”
Father, the day Jesus was born, the day He arrived on earth as both God and man, is pictured in our minds as a peaceful time of great joy. But in the heavens, a battle was being waged, and that battle continues today.
If you have a miniature manger in your home today, or if you’ve heard a piece of music in the mall with “Bethlehem” in it, I — as a Palestinian Christian in whose life Bethlehem has played a big role — have a favor to ask you: Please go to your computer and do a search using these words: “Bethlehem Christmas wall.” Check out some of the articles and the images. If your curiosity is piqued, go a bit further and check out the images for “al Masara village,” or “al Walaja village,” two tiny villages near Bethlehem. I think this is an important exercise for anyone who has formed a mental image of the Little Town of Bethlehem during this holiday season.
Today, Bethlehem and the surrounding areas still have some of the holiest churches of Christianity, and they still vibrate with the prayers and celebrations of Palestinian Christians. But the Palestinians of Bethlehem, Christians and Muslims alike, are a people besieged. For Bethlehem today is surrounded by a host of physical barriers, including several miles of a concrete wall that is over 20 feet high, built by the Israeli occupation authorities. Continue reading “Philip Farah – Christmas in Bethlehem: Image and Reality, 2012”
JERUSALEM — The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, along with the Pilgrimage Route, was added on Friday to Unesco’s World Heritage List, a move that was celebrated by Palestinians who hailed it as a significant political and diplomatic achievement as much as a cultural one.
I am reminded of one of the talks at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference there in Bethlehem last week. Sami Awad, one of the Palestinian Christian leaders and one of the conveners of the conference, shared his dream for an end to the Separation Wall. And he said that it may seem impossible, but God is a master of the impossible. The image that came to mind was the fall of the Jericho wall (Joshua 6 in the Bible), which crumbled without a single weapon being raised – it fell from the prayers, celebration, dancing and music, and nonviolent marching of God’s people… chanting down the walls.
Then Sami shared something deeply personal. He felt God calling him to a pilgrimage to the land and sites of the Holocaust. So he went – to Auschwitz and the concentration camps, to the museums and memorials. Sami shared about what happened in him as a Palestinian, as he learned the history and felt the pain of the Jewish people. It was deep, moving. Then he said something I will never forget. There came a moment when he realized that the wall was not built out of hatred but out of fear, and that made all the difference in the world.
It certainly doesn’t make the wall any less ugly or justify any of the terrible things being done to Palestinians… but knowing that the wall is driven more from fear than by hatred humanizes those on the other side. And it also gives us hope that someday the wall can come down because love can overcome fear. There’s a great verse in the Bible that says:
Do you own a Nativity set? I bopught one in Bethlehem a few years ago and then I have put it somewhere so well that I could not find it last Christmas.
After some new search and an idea from my wife I have found it and we will have a Nativity set (or Creche, as the French call it) this Christmas. But it is not about my Nativity set that I want to talk to you, but about a very spacial one: a walled Nativity set – testimony of the hideous Israeli apartheid wall that has transformed Bethlehem into a ghetto.
Any of you who is interested could order this set HERE.
In June 2010 Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, gave a talk in Madison, WI entitled “Keys to Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. The Bright Stars of Bethlehem, the US-based fund-raising organization for Christmas Lutheran Church and its ministries, has now posted the videos in seven parts.
I will post these in seven separate posts that will allow you to get a Palestinian perspective of the conflict in the Middle East.
Amidst summer in winter, as temperatures in the last week or so ranged in the upper teens and lower twenties, people in Bethlehem were enjoying an Australia or New Zealand Christmas. In Palestine, the joy of Christmas is usually associated with the overall political and economic situation and with the health standing of family members and not necessarily with the number of gifts one receives. The joy of Christmas is also tied to peace but, needless to say, there is still no peace in the land of Christ’s birth. The prospects for peace, so many times mistakenly heralded by the most powerful leaders do not excite people here anymore. Palestinians are no longer excited by promises and speeches made by prominent politicians to bring about peace and serenity. Continue reading “Christmas 2009 in Bethlehem”