hI am very proud. I am very proud to see people in Bethlehem seeking to celebreate Christmas this year. As difficult as it is on the political level with the actions of the Israeli occupation, as hard as it is on the economic level with having an all out economic blockade on our people, as fears grow of possible internal violence between political factions; the people of Bethlehem are coming together to celebreate the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Celebrating Christmas does not mean that we are ignoring the pain we live and witness every day; celebrating Christmas does not mean that we are denying the internal tensions that might lead us to a civil war; celebrating Christmas does not mean that we are now acustomed to the barriers, checkpoints, walls, and opened prisions that have been created by the Israeli occupation, and celebrating Christmas does not mean that we accpet the denial of our rights.
Celebrating Christmas means that we beleive in peace, that we seek freedom, that we honor others, that we know there is a better tomorrow and that we commit to making that day a reality. A message of Christmas from Bethlehem is a strong message that Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) are one people, working together to ease the pain of those who are hurt, to feed those who are hungry, and to shelter those who have lost thier homes.
My wish this season is not for you to only have a Merry Christmas, but to celebrate Christmas in its real meaning of love, peace, and jsutice for all … like what we are trying to do in Bethlehem today.
May God bless you and your families and may the spirit of Christmas live with us every day for the rest of our lives.
In peace and love,
By the way, did you know that if Joseph and Mary were here today, they would not be able to enter Bethlehem because they would be from Nazareth and would be denied entry by the Israeli army?