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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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Letter from Bethlehem

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.




December 17, 2010: The Little Town of Bethlehem in Occupied Territory and Music of the Season Read more...




The Following was received October 24, 2005 from Bethlehem and this page was updated July 17, 2006:

[FYI-please read BLOG entry 10/24/05 RE: personal connection]

Dear World:

We are writing you from the city of Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ was born. The city of diversity where Christians and Muslims live side-by-side and peoples of all faiths and cultures are welcomed. Bethlehem is now facing unprecedented danger.

As citizens of this Holy city, we welcome you to witness the new and sad facts. The city is completely encircled by the wall and the bypass roads. We would like to provide you with some facts about the reality of the city.

• Israel claims that it built the wall to ensure security for its citizens.

• The claim for security is nullified by the fact that the wall is NOT being built on the internationally recognized 1949 Green Line boundary between Israel and the West Bank. The wall is on Palestinian land that according to international law must be returned to Palestinians. 

• The direct effect of the wall is that 10% of the West Bank will be confiscated and Palestinians will be isolated from each other and from the world in prison-like zones.

• The current wall is at least 360 km long (3 times as long and twice as high as the Berlin Wall); once completed it will reach over 700 km, completely encircling and dividing the West Bank.

• 295,000 to 400,000 Palestinians will be isolated from the West Bank because their homes will fall between the Wall and the Green Line.

• Rural populations will be walled off from primary urban centers where essential services are available, such as hospitals, schools, markets and places of worship.

• The wall has two forms: cement and/or a fenced road. The cement wall ranges between 6-9 meters in height. The fenced roads range from 40-100 meters wide. Sniper towers, trenches, trace roads, patrol roads, gates, footprint detection fields, sensors, and cameras support both forms.

• A system of "special permits" for Palestinians will be set up by Israel to allow for passage through the check points at the wall. Israel will have total control on the movement of the inhabitants and will seek their total “obedience” in order to get permits.

• Seven villages (approximately 19,000 Palestinians) lie between the Green Line and Bethlehem will be completely isolated. These villages are the main vegetables and meat providers to the Bethlehem governorate.

• The United Nations is already feeding over 1,100 families in the Bethlehem area through direct food aid. This number is likely to increase if subsistence farming declines due to restricted access to farmlands.

• The route of the wall will insure that all settlements’ clusters fall on the Israeli side together with most of the Palestinian agriculture land and underground water.

• About twelve to fifteen Palestinian residential buildings at the entrance of Bethlehem are under threat of evacuation or demolition, in addition to the Armenian Church property and an Islamic cemetery.

• After the completion of the wall, we expect percentage of migration to get higher to endanger the historical existence of the Christian community in Bethlehem. As of this publication, more than 200 Palestinian Christian families have migrated to other countries.

This map was prepared by Negotiation Affairs Department.
You can find it at:
http://www.nad-plo.org/maps/jerusalem/jpeg/bethlehem%20map.jpg

Prepared by Husam Jubran and Eilda Zaghmout

Sources:
www.arij.org
www.stopthewall.org
www.humanitarianinfo.org
www.btselem.org
www.pengon.org

Please read the DO SOMETHING page and
thank you for D
OING SOMETHING

July 17, 2006 update:

From Leila Sansour,
Chief Executive, Open Bethlehem

On the fourth anniversary of the bombing of the ancient Palestinian-Christian Shrine to Saint Barbara by the Israeli army, aides to US Congressman Michael McCaul prepared a resolution purporting to act on behalf of Palestine's Christian community. The resolution before Congress blames the crisis threatening the erasure of the oldest Christian community in the world on the Palestinian Authority.

The resolution was drafted without consulting any Palestinian body, whether spiritual or civic. Yet they reflect a deeply entrenched view in the US that Christians and Muslims cannot share the same space.
Whether through naivety or premeditation such claims feed the myth that Israel's brutal military occupation is no more than a sectarian conflict.

At Open Bethlehem we will do everything in our power to address such misconceptions. It is important to remember that these misconceptions are not the result of a worldwide conspiracy. They are the fruit of interested parties, pursuing their own agendas and seizing the opportunities that democracies offer. With openness and transparency on our side, we can more than match the success of the pro-Israeli lobby - and we will. We invite all our friends to join us.

Open Bethlehem has joined the calls from the heads of the Churches in Palestine, civil society organisations and laity bodies in urging Congress to dismiss a resolution presented by Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas) which misleads members of the house on the real threat to the Christian community in Palestine. The resolution relies wholly on information supplied by Israel's Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, a think-tank dedicated to the promotion of Israeli concerns.

Leila Sansour, July 2006
Chief Executive, Open Bethlehem


On June 17, 2006 I published "The Christian Exodus" -posted under Editorial on WAWA homepage. Here is the ONLY coverage I have seen from the MSM on this topic.

Holy Land Christians blame Israel
July 3, 2006
BY ROBERT NOVAK , Washington Post

On June 19, two young members of Congress received an extraordinary letter from Jerusalem. On behalf of Christian churches in the Holy and, they were told a House resolution they were circulating blaming the Palestinian Authority for Christian decline there "is based on many false affirmations." The Very Rev. Michael H. Sellers, an Anglican priest who is coordinator of Jerusalem's Christian churches, said the real problem is the Israeli occupation -- especially its new security wall.

Prior to hearing this, freshman Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, Texas, and four-term Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York (Queens) had collected 21 co-sponsors (mainly
conservative Republicans) for their resolution. Sellers' communication was followed two days later by a letter from Rep. Henry Hyde, House International Relations Committee chairman. He told the two congressmen their claim of systematic persecution by the Palestinian Authority is "inaccurate and incomplete."

McCaul and Crowley put their resolution "on hold" going into the long Fourth of July recess. So apparently ends an audacious effort by Israeli public relations to place full blame for the Christian exodus from the Israeli-controlled Holy Land on Muslims. Instead, problems caused by the security wall have been highlighted once again.

The House was pulled into this issue by Justus Reid Weiner, an Israeli lawyer with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Weiner, who long has blamed Christian misfortunes on the Palestinian Authority, contacted Ari Stein, a staffer in McCaul's congressional office. Stein in turn brought in Crowley, a prominent Democrat, through his staffer, Gregg Shelowitz.

The result was a "Dear Colleague" letter from McCaul and Crowley blaming the Palestinian Authority for "the systematic destruction of the oldest Christian community in the world." The staff-written letter
asserted: "If we do not act now, Christians around the world risk losing control of and access to the most ancient and holy sites in Christendom."

Their subsequent resolution spent three pages detailing alleged persecution of Christians by Arab Muslims, even assailing the State Department for failing to put "treatment of Palestinian Christians by
the Palestinian Authority" in its annual report on human rights violations. The resolution immediately picked up 16 Republican co-sponsors and five Democrats.

This process was slowed by Sellers' letter from Jerusalem. He said Christian churches in the Holy Land that he represents can take care of any problems with Muslims and "are not seeking your interference in their internal problems." Where Congress could help, he added, was influencing Israeli government policy: "Your support for the Christian presence in the Holy Land will best be served by helping to remove the separation wall (which has converted all the Palestinian towns into big prisons for Christians and Muslims alike) and by helping to bring occupation to an end with all its inherent types of oppression and humiliation."

After his letter to McCaul and Crowley, Hyde made an unscheduled appearance last Friday at an International Relations subcommittee hearing on the plight of religious minorities. He argued the problem for the Holy Land's Christians is not Muslims but Israel. Long a steadfast supporter of Israel, Hyde testified: "I have been unable to understand how the currently routed barrier in Jerusalem -- which rips asunder the existential poles of Christian belief, the Nativity and the Resurrection, and encloses 200,000 Palestinians on the Jerusalem side of the barrier -- will improve the security of Israel's citizens."

Hyde was followed at the hearing by the Rev. Firas Arida, the 31-year-old Roman Catholic priest in the West Bank village of Aboud. Asserting that the Israeli security wall causes his parishioners to lose water and olive trees, he said "the Israeli occupation must end," and "there must be no more settlements on Palestinian land."

McCaul and Crowley did not attend Friday's hearing and surely have not been to Aboud. Both Catholics, they might well visit the village and talk with Firas' flock while prudently keeping their ill-considered resolution on hold.

 
 

   
 
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