Manger Square in Bethlehem. At Christmastime, Christians from around the world turn their thoughts to shepherds, angels, and wise men and to stories about miracles taking place in Bethlehem a long time ago. But…
Don’t forget that Bethlehem today is a real place with 25,000 real people cut off from the rest of the world by what many label an “apartheid wall”, living under a brutal Israeli military occupation that began more than 5 decades ago. There is nothing romantic or miraculous about Bethlehem today.
Jerusalem lies on the other side of this wall, guarded by armed Israeli soldiers. It is less than 10 km away. The wall prevents Bethlehemites, whether Christian or Muslim, and virtually all of the other 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, from visiting Jerusalem except by passing through a checkpoint and then only if they have special Israeli permission to do so.
Israeli forces on Tuesday suppressed a peaceful march calling for “Christmas without occupation” in Bethlehem. (see photo).
Demonstrators, some of whom were dressed as Father Christmas, marched to the Israeli military checkpoint in northern Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas and hand out gifts to children in the area. Israeli forces prevented demonstrators from reaching the checkpoint and fired tear gas into the crowd. Several people were treated at the scene for tear gas inhalation.
So when celebrating Christmas in Canada, singing “O little town of Bethehem”, or “Silent night” or any other of the lovely Christmas songs, save a thought for those who actually live in Bethlehem today.
And if you get a cheery Christmas greeting from Prime Minister Trudeau, you might want to write him back reminding him that…
… on December 12th, two weeks before Christmas, Canada was one of only 7 countries at the UN General Assembly to vote against a condemnation of this Israeli occupation!!
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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