“If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed,” declared Father Ibrahim Shomali, a Catholic priest of the city’s Beit Jala parish. Palestinian Christians complicate the simplistic narrative of “Muslims vs. Jews”; they are an inconvenient reminder that the conflict in the Holy Land has nothing to do with theology and everything to do with freedom and self-determination.
“Israel” is an up-to-date apartheid state. “Israel” is a wicked occupying force. “Israel” is a raw, primitive, viciously colonialist state, other “neo-colonialisms” notwithstanding. Whether in Gaza or the West Bank, Palestine is not supposed to defend itself against apartheid, occupation or colonialism in this basic logic of the white Western capitalist world, but it does – valiantly. Long live Palestine!
Over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are currently engaged in a steadfast and open-ended hunger strike that launched on April 17, 2012, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. They are demanding an end to solitary confinement; access to family visits for all prisoners; and access to education and media. And they are demanding international solidarity.
U.S. hands off the little town of Bethlehem! In this season celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us all resolve to pray and work for ending the occupation, implementing other internationally recognized Palestinian rights and allowing Palestinians to shed the shackles of U.S. foreign policy.