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Christmas against the Apartheid Wall


Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
6 December 2006

Each year before Christmas, believers and activists alike take the occasion to raise awareness about the occupation of Palestine, in particular its devastating effects on Bethlehem.



"This way to Bethlehem" - the
provocative banner blocking the bypasers
in front of a wall is part of the Christmas
installation at the Catholic church in St. Ives.

This year, the Sacred Heart Catholic church in St Ives, UK, has cancelled its famous Christmas ”Live Crib” event. Instead of actors reenacting Christmas night, a life-size replica of the Apartheid Wall has been constructed in front of the church bearing protest banners and photographs showing the reality of Israeli occupation. (See full press release below.)

In recent years various churches have focused on the Israeli occupation; replica walls are included along with the cribs and at times replace them entirely. An effective tool for raising awareness and expressing visible support for the Palestinian struggle, it is time that the replicas spread throughout the churches until Bethlehem – and with it Palestine – is free.

In Washington, an ad hoc committee for Bethlehem has been founded to organize a Christmas Procession for Bethlehem. On Saturday, 23rd of December at 4 pm, all those standing in solidarity with Palestine are called to gather at Lafayette Park to join a powerful procession around the White House and National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse. Mary and Joseph, complete with a donkey, will lead the candle light procession.

The PSC UK is preparing for a Christmas Carol, along with other initiatives, as an expression of solidarity with Palestine.

Laila Sansour from www.OpenBethlehem.org declared: “"Our town has become a prison for those of us who live here; our livelihoods have been strangled by the Israeli wall and the restrictions on movement, which have severed the arteries which for centuries have sustained our little town. It is right that Christians should know this, and that their prayers in this season be directed towards the many people suffering dire poverty in Bethlehem as a consequence of the Israeli occupation...Bethlehem needs the world, and the world needs Bethlehem. We must not let the wall separate us."


PRESS RELEASE
Catholic Church cancels Christmas Crib


The Sacred Heart Catholic church in St Ives has cancelled its annual ‘Live Crib’ event in protest against the Israeli wall being built around the holy city of Bethlehem. In place of crib, there will be erected a life-size replica portion of the Israeli concrete blockade that is causing untold suffering to the ordinary citizens of the city. The wall will stand as a symbol of the plight of these ‘abandoned’ people.



In addition, large protest banners and stark photographs will stand alongside the ‘wall’ to show passers-by how desperate and ugly the situation is in the Holy Land.

Father Paul is confident that the people of St Ives will want to express their support for these people at Christmas. “The lives of the ordinary citizens of Bethlehem have been devastated by the building of the wall. It affects every aspect of their lives: friends and family are separated, earning a living becomes more and more difficult, and access to health care is severely restricted in the town of Bethlehem, which we sing about at this time of the year. If we can provide these people with a few extra basic provisions and give them a little financial support, we can help make their lives more bearable.”

BASIC FACTS


  • The wall will be approximately 30 ft high.
  • It will be erected on Friday 15th December, and will be taken down on Wednesday 27th December.
  • Father Paul Maddison and some parishioners, who have visited and seen the wall, will be available for interview at 10 am on Friday 15th outside the church as the wall is being erected.
  • Donations to help alleviate the suffering of the citizens of Bethlehem can be put through the letter box of the Catholic Presbytery, 19 Needingworth Road, St Ives
  • People wishing to donate are also invited to send donations via: Holy Land 2003, PO Box 140, St Ives PE27 9AP (cheques made payable to Holy Land 2006)
  • All donations will be used to provide food and medical assistance to the citizens of Bethlehem.

BACKGROUND


The Church of the Sacred Heart in St Ives is twinned with the Catholic parish in Aboud Village on the West Bank. Since 2003, Father Maddison, along with groups from St Ives and other places in East Anglia, has made regular visits to take donations and lend support to the Aboud villagers, who are Christians and Muslims. He has seen first-hand the suffering and increasingly worsening plight of the families who live there.

The concrete wall has been built though farmland and villages:

  • wrecking livelihoods that depend on farming the ‘stolen’ land,
  • making daily life a misery for those people who have to cross the wall to go to work
  • costing the lives of patients who have sought urgent medical attention on the ‘other side’, only to be delayed unnecessarily
  • causing untold poverty to thousands, who cannot raise enough money to feed, clothe and educate their families.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS


Contact: Father Paul Maddison, Parish Priest
Telephone: 01480 462192
e-mail: frpaul@sacredheart-stives.org
Address: Sacred Heart RC Church,
19 Needingworth Road,
St Ives, Cambs
PE27 5JT


Source: http://www.interfaithpeaceinitiative.com/BethlehemToday.htm


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