Tag Archives: peace in the Middle East

O, Isolated Town of Bethlehem

Bethlehem, largely isolated behind a high wall, remains the symbol for the hope of peace

Last June I spent more than a week in Palestine, AKA the West Bank and officially called the Palestinian Territories or some such phrase that denies the validity of independent statehood.  My group’s first stop was Bethlehem, cut off by a high “security wall” erected by Israeli authorities to isolate the Palestinians and make it more annoying for tourists to visit the city where Jesus was born. Whether or not one is a believer, the hoops that people have to go through to worship,  celebrate or simply sightsee are incomprehensible to anyone who believes that human rights, human dignity and the right to self-determination are more important than politics or religious differences. Every religion preaches tolerance, but we see too little of it in what is commonly referred to as the Holy Land.

Back up at Israeli checkpoint set up at the single entrance into and out of Bethlehem.

Except at Christmas, Bethlehem is a relative quite place.

Manger Square and other quiet places surrounding the Church of the Nativity in June.
Christmas pilgrims (and probably a lot of security personnel) peacefully filled Manger Square a few years ago. AP File photo.

Israelis and Palestinians have more or less been talking for several months now. Hopefully, quiet times will continued, and a lasting peace will soon prevail. After all, the faithful make a Christmas pilgrimage to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. No matter what one’s believe, that should be a goal for all. My friend Rich Grant put ths quote on his Facebook page: ““My first wish is to see the whole world in peace and the inhabitants of it as one band of brothers, striving who should contribute… most to the happiness of mankind.” George Washington

Amen.