Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Blog

“As Christians get ready to celebrate Easter, Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are envious of fellow Christians from all over the world who are able to visit Jerusalem’s holy Christian sites and worship freely while they cannot.”

That was the opening sentence of an article by Maher Abukhater published in the Los Angeles Times last week, and it captures quite well the state of Christians at the site of Christianity’s birth. Under curfews, behind walls, and stranded at checkpoints; this is life under occupation in the holy land, and Christians are not exempt from it. With East Jerusalem illegally annexed by Israel, it is kept out of bounds for most Palestinians, and the observance of religious holidays is not the sort of exception occasionally granted for Palestinians around the city to enter it. Part of a statement from the Christian Community in the West Bank reads as follows:

“The Old City [of Jerusalem], its gates and roads, the Mount of Olives, Cia Dolorosa and the Holy Sepulchre Church, where pilgrims from all over the world journey to, are equally important to the Palestinian Christians of Gaza and the West Bank, who want to join their Jerusalemite Christian brethren in the liturgical events leading to the resurrection, the holiest celebration in Christianity.”

For years now, “pro-Israel” propagandists have sought to portray Israel as the spearhead of the war on "Islamic terrorism," seeking to obscure Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and independence in their own country under the guise of a global “clash of civilizations.” The struggle of the sizable Christian Palestinian community in Bethlehem and other parts of Palestine against Israeli occupation for their religious, civil, and political rights has long undermined the contrived narrative of propagandists. As Christians the world over celebrate their most important religious holiday, let us remember that no celebration is complete until all the people of the holy land are free.

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