Israeli authorities are building a separation barrier within the occupied Palestinian territories, in effect annexing approximately 12 percent of the land in the Palestinian territories. This separation barrier affects Palestinians in a number of ways, including dividing villages, restricting travel, and threatening Palestinian homes with demolition, to name a few. This separation barrier currently surrounds Bethlehem on three sides -- if Mary and Joseph were traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem today, they would encounter the separation barrier. Therefore, this Advent and Christmas, we are asking folks to set up a wall around their nativity sets to raise awareness about the situation in Bethlehem and the occupied Palestinian territories in general. It probably seems far too early to start talking about Advent and Christmas already, but we're sending this out now so that churches (and individuals, too!) have some time to plan how they will participate in this action. I invite you (or your churches, small groups, etc.) to consider participating in this action to raise awareness of the separation barrier going up in Palestine. The official "action alert" we sent out on CPT's mailing list is as follows:
31 October 2007
HEBRON ACTION ALERT: CPT Palestine announces “No Way to the Inn: Bethlehem behind the Wall” Campaign
If the Christmas story were to happen today, Mary and Joseph would have a hard time getting to Bethlehem.
Since 2002, Israeli authorities have been building a separation barrier snaking through the occupied Palestinian territories, in effect annexing valuable Palestinian land and water resources. To clear the way, Palestinians living near the security barrier often face the threat of home demolitions. According to Israeli human rights monitoring organization B’Tselem, the separation barrier affects nearly half a million Palestinian residents, and currently the barrier separates almost 12 percent of the land within the 1967 Green Line from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. When completed, the barrier will be 780 km long (for more statistics, visit: http://www.btselem.org/english/Separation_Barrier/Statistics.asp .)
The separation barrier surrounds Bethlehem, located in Palestine, on three sides and cuts off the city from Jerusalem only six miles away.
During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, erect a wall around nativity sets in your homes and churches to raise awareness of the separation barrier the Israeli authorities are erecting in the occupied Palestinian territories. Inform local media and use this action as an opportunity to spread the word about the separation barrier. After erecting your wall, take pictures of the nativity, and send them as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will compile the pictures for broader distribution (more details to come.)
CPT Palestine will also be producing related worship materials for reflection during Advent.
For questions and concerns, contact the CPT Palestine team at email@example.com
For photos of the separation barrier, visit http://www.cpt.org/gallery/album224
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem writes about the separation barrier: “In June 2002, the government of Israel decided to erect a physical barrier to separate Israel and the West Bank in order to prevent the uncontrolled entry of Palestinians into Israel . In most areas, the barrier is comprised of an electronic fence with dirt paths, barbed-wire fences, and trenches on both sides, at an average width of 60 meters. In some areas, a wall six to eight meters high has been erected in place of the barrier system. . . The construction of the barrier has brought new restrictions on movement for Palestinians living near the Barrier's route, in addition to the widespread restrictions that have been in place since the outbreak of the current intifada. Thousands of Palestinians have difficulty going to their fields and marketing their produce in other areas of the West Bank . Farming is a primary source of income in the Palestinian communities situated along the Barrier's route, an area that constitutes one of the most fertile areas in the West Bank . The harm to the farming sector is liable to have drastic economic effects on the residents - whose economic situation is already very difficult - and drive many families into poverty.” (To read this article in full, visit http://www.btselem.org/english/Separation_Barrier/Index.asp)
For a range of information about the separation barrier, visit:
http://www.arij.org/index.php?option=com_cases&Itemid=27&lang=en (contains articles regarding separation barrier – also known as the segregation wall – in addition to general information about the Israeli occupation of Palestine)-----
I am so excited about this campaign, because it carries about it an air of holy mischief. I think many times the work of the prophets was (and is!) to "tell it like it is," sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. I hope you'll consider joining us in this campaign.
All right, dear ones. That's all for now -- as always, there is so much to write, and not nearly enough time! To be continued.