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Tue Dec 31 2013 (Updated 01/04/14)Christmas in Bethlehem
Tue Dec 31 2013 (Updated 01/04/14)Christian Palestinian Reflects on Life Under Israeli Occupation and Maintains Hope
Mazin Qumsiyeh writes: Christmas 2013 in Bethlehem (Beit Laham, Aramaic for House of Laham, the Canaanitic God of Sustenance) is still a very special and meaningful time even under the brutal Israeli apartheid occupation. We are not talking about the visual aspects and the unique religious services at the Church of Nativity. It is special because reflection here is special. Nowhere is there an exhibit of “Occupation Art” shown in a “Peace Center” in front of a large Christmas tree in front of one of the holiest places in Christianity. Nowhere on earth do people pray that the wall suffocating them is dismantled then watch and listen to Christmas carols from around the world after admiring such exhibits....
The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 is a time to reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian child thought to be born in a manger over 2000 years ago. The land was called Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth and also for hundreds of years before he was born and it is still geographically Palestine today. It is also a time to reflect on the real message of Jesus, sometimes distorted (like happened with the Crusaders and with the marginal misnamed “Christian Zionists”). It is still a message of hope, peace, joy, justice, love, and harmony....
[Yet] on Christmas eve, Israeli forces also bombed Gaza killing at least two including a 3-year old girl and injuring others in her family. So many Palestinians in Bethlehem and in the Churches directed our Christmas gifts to people of Gaza and people of Syria. And most of us (me included) are barred from entering our city of Jerusalem which is methodically being stripped of its Palestinian population (Christians and Muslims) and isolated by walls (physical and psychological).
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