Thursday, November 29, 2007


For many years, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular human rights and solidarity groups have been protesting against the economic and social isolation of the historic city of Bethlehem, by tradition Jesus's birthplace (a number of scholars suggest it was more likely to have been Nazareth). A key issue is the destructive impact of the Separation Wall, which has done little to improved security, but has had the impact of dividing Palestinians from Jews and Palestinians from other Palestinians, and has played a part in the continual impoverishment of vulnerable communities. It is, in effect, a blockade.

This Christmas the UK charity Amos Trust is dramatically highlighting the plight of Bethlehem, which has also seen a significant decrease in the Christian population, by marketing a locally produced olive wood version of the Nativity scene with a (removable) Separation Wall. The idea is to get money to Bethlehem producers of all faiths and none, to celebrate the birth of liberation, and also to encourage awareness of the connection between Christ's birth as an outsider and the processes which lead to 'outsidering' in today's world - and against which the Gospel message of vulnerable hope is directed. There is more here, and you can buy the Christmas Nativity scene is in two sizes from Amos Trust (details here), writing to

Amos Trust has also produced Voices from the Ghetto 2007, a downloadable series of personal stories prayers, meditations and songs on Bethlehem compiled from Amos partners, staff and supporters. It includes the downloadable song They've canceled Christmas in Bethlehem (the Wall must fall).

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