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November 05, 2012
This alert focuses on Palestinian Christians who are concentrated in an area referred to as the Christian triangle: Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour.
Introduction by Rifat Odeh Kassis* and Dr. Jad Isaac*
We, Kairos Palestine and ARIJ, send you greetings from Bethlehem, the city to which Christians around the world turn their eyes during the season announcing the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
We live in the Middle East at a time in which the drums of war beat constantly. While Israel raises the alarm about Iran, claiming that its nuclear threat is the main source of instability in the Middle East, reality shows otherwise: indeed, the illegal Israeli occupation is the root cause of unrest in our region. It must end as quickly as possible.
Palestinian Christians are concentrated in an area referred to as the Christian triangle: Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour. This area is being strangled – in terms of access to land, water, health services, education, general mobility, and all related rights –by the unabated wave of settlement construction. Moreover, the forcible isolation of the triangle with its center, Jerusalem, is damaging both to people in Jerusalem and in the Bethlehem area.
The facts on the ground are bleak. Land confiscation, as well as the influx of Israeli settlers, suggest that there will be no future for Palestinians (whether Christian or Muslim) in the triangle area. In this sense, the prospect of a clear “solution” grows darker every day.
However, there is still a chance to solve this conflict peacefully: if, and only if, the international community courageously stands for a just peace.
Today, even more than at any other moment, you – our sisters and brothers around the world –have the opportunity and the obligation to demand justice. By refusing to condone and perpetuate Israeli impunity, by declining to support companies that fund the Israeli occupation, by insisting that Israel comply with international law, and by pressuring Israel to grant Palestinians their rights, you can make a crucial difference.
Time is running out. But with your strength, solidarity, commitment, and compassion – with your bold, public, united refusal to accept any outcome other than an end to oppression – together, we can turn the tide.
We count on you. With this Christmas Alert we are asking you to turn the tide by getting involved through the following tasks:
Please distribute and study the information material as well as the theological reflections each Sunday in Advent in your own churches to inform and educate your sisters and brothers in church about the situation of your Palestinian brethren under Israeli occupation.
Please share the alert with congregations and dioceses around your country.
Please send letters of solidarity and support for justice in Palestine/Israel to the Israeli embassies in your own country. For further information see www.allembassies.com/israeli_embassies.htm.
Please inform your Palestinian brethren about the way you have been involved in the Christmas Alert.
We can finally live in peace with justice,the peace that all peoples aspire to, Peace that was announced in Bethlehem.
“Our question to our brothers and sisters in the Churches today is: Are you willing and able to work with us to restore our freedom? Our freedom will be the only sustainable foundation for both Palestinians and Israelis to live in love, justice, peace and security.” (From the Kairos Document ‘A Moment of Truth’, Chapter 6.1)
*Rifat Odeh Kassis is general coordinator of Kairos Palestine. Dr. Jad Isaac is director general of ARIJ.