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FACTS ABOUT THE WALL from friends in Bethlehem

Read the truth about the Wall and what is happening today in the Holy City of Bethlehem.

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Home arrow Blog arrow December 2009 arrow December 22, 2009

December 22, 2009
December 22, 2009: Santa on Claire's street with no name, in the little town of Bethlehem


'Santa' on Claire's street with no name, 2009. Photographer unknown.

Claire's Tomb

Eileen Fleming - We Are Wide Awake
eileen fleming at Claire's Tomb, 2007, photo by Meir Vanunu.

In February 2003, Claire and her family of fourteen whose three story home and first floor business, adjacent to Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem were informed by the Palestinian Authority that The Wall would soon be coming to their neighborhood.

The family had moved into their comfortable dwelling in 1967, and would spend hours in their back yard garden with a view of open green space and watch pilgrims and tourists visit Rachel's Tomb and welcome them into their gift shop. The family is now encircled on three sides by 25-30 feet high slabs of concrete which have imprisoned them from the rest of the Little Town of Bethlehem: which is Occupied Territory.

For months the family helplessly observed the preparation work all around them, and then one week before Christmas 2003, Claire's children went to school and came home to discover that every view from every window was of the concrete monster.

Palestinians like Claire are imprisoned on the Israeli side of the wall and the once economically thriving and vibrant main street in Bethlehem is now a ghost town for stores and restaurants have been abandoned.

Rachel's tomb and Claire's tomb are divided by the concrete barrier which is topped by guard towers and patrolled by soldiers in battle gear.

Claire's home is less than 500 yards inside Bethlehem, and it had been the closest shop to Rachel's Tomb. Not long ago, multitudes of pilgrims and tourists would shop there, but today only the curious venture down the concrete walled pathway.

According to the Israeli government The Wall which has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in The Hague is for the security of Jewish worshipers at the shrine they revere as the Tomb of Rachel. Rachel was the wife of the biblical patriarch Jacob, who was the first to be named "Israel" for having wrestled and struggled with The Divine being.


On May 14, 1948 The Declaration of the establishment of Israel promised:

"One the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations."


On February 21, 2003, Raanan Gissin, Spokesmen for Ariel Sharon was interviewed regarding The Wall which imprisoned Claire and her family, and he claimed, "The main purpose here is not to annex that land, but to provide security [and to ensure] freedom of access and freedom of religion."

"Peace, Peace, Peace, they say, when there is no peace." Jeremiah 8:11

The Wall does not follow the Green Line so even the claims of security are nullified, for The Wall that imprisons Claire and her family divides Palestinians from Palestinians as it eviscerates their economy. Only Jews have freedom of access and religion, for Palestinian civilians are denied access to the holy sites.

The concrete wall and electronic fence has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the Israeli side, effectively undermining one of the stated purposes which is the policy of Hafrada, which is Hebrew for separation of Israelis and Palestinians and that is: apartheid.

Dr. Jad Issac, the director general of the Applied Research Institute examined a satellite photograph of the area and stated, "Bethlehem is the Bethlehem ghetto now…rather than seeking to ensure freedom of religion, Israel was pushing Bethlehem's Christian Palestinians to pack up and leave. About 360 Palestinians would be left on the Israeli side and once they get rid of the Christians, then they will label the rest as terrorists."

Dr. Shmuel Berkovitz, an expert on Jerusalem and Jewish holy places, said The Wall effectively annexed Rachel's Tomb to Jerusalem from Bethlehem "as a matter of technical separation, without an official declaration. Right now, you can't see any romantic place there; you can see it only as a military position."

 

Rachel's Tomb is a small stone building with a dome, which was built during the Ottoman rule, but is now completely enclosed by the fortifications, built in 1996 and 1997.

During my first of three visits to Claire, she told me that, "Six years ago when the Israeli army blocked the main street in Bethlehem we hoped it would be temporary. We could not imagine anyone could block another human being and isolate them like they have done to us. A week before last Christmas my children went to school and when they returned they were faced with the concrete wall in front of them. They cried and cried and wanted to know how could such a thing be done to them? We are living in a tomb, we are buried alive. My children suffer and their mother and father can do nothing.

"In another ten years there will be no more Christians in Bethlehem if things do not change soon. Everyone is leaving, we need work, and we need to feed our children. Jesus was born here but we are dying. My children suffer, they are angry and shout because nobody comes to visit us anymore and the children must stay inside after school.

"We use to enjoy being out in our garden watching the people, the trees, the cars that would pass by, but now we only see concrete walls. Our lives have been stolen! Do Americans understand what happens to children when they are buried alive? We need a solution fast so that our children can live like American children! We want human rights! When Hillary Clinton visited Jerusalem and said the wall was not against the Palestinian people, she killed us too! Christians who do not care kill us too!

"My family use to go to Haifa on the weekends, we use to live a peaceful and comfortable life. But now our business is bankrupt and we are in prison for being Palestinians."


During my last trip to visit Claire, in June 2009, I purchased one of the olive wood nativity sets that she and her family created to symbolize the reality of Bethlehem today. Claire explained, "It has a removable wall; we opened a door where Jesus Christ lays to light our future with hope."

I HOPE you will visit CLAIRE:

http://www.anastas-bethlehem.com/



More FACTS ABOUT THE WALL from friends in Bethlehem

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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
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The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
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