World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel: Bethlehem

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Saturday June 4. On the closing day of the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, the Christian Organizations in Bethlehem and Jerusalem held a liturgy in the Emanuelle Church near the Bethlehem-Jerusalem checkpoint.

The ecumenical liturgy was led by Jerusalem and Bethlehem religious leaders from different denominations: Bishop Atallah Hanna, Archimandrite Joseph Saghbini, Father Ibrahim Shomali and Reverend Imad Hadad. 

A special prayer was pronounced for a just peace in Jerusalem, while the Bethlehem Sumud choir and Marianne Murra (11 years) sang religious and national songs.

Afterwards all went out to pass the checkpoint – where the army immediately closed the gate – and walked along the Wall around Rachel’s Tomb to attend an event in protest of the denial of entry into Jerusalem. Various films were shown on the Wall. They were sent for the occasion by EAPPI – Austria, EED – Germany, United Methodist Church of Canada,  and the India Solidarity Ecumenical Network – Kairos Palestine. Also brief films made locally by the Christian organizations commemorating the Nakbeh were shown.  A few drawings by youth and a seclection of permits were also put on display.

Ann Milner, member of Pax Christi UK, spoke about her pilgrimage on foot from Rome to Ephese (Turkey), which she just had completed.

Activity coordinated by: Jerusalem and Bethlehem religious leaders, AEI-Open Windows, EAPPI, Jerusalem Inter-Church Center, YMCA, Wi'am, Sabeel, Holy Land Trust.

Bethlehem, June 6, 2011.

Brief videos put on YouTube for the World Week:

EED – Germany:

India Solidarity Ecumenical Network – Kairos Palestine:

United Methodist Church of Canada:

Al Nakba goes on, by the National Palestinian Christian Organizations (camera: Fadi Abu Akleh, song and music Manal Abdo, and director Yusef Daher, Light Path). Palestinians and internationals searching for a gate in the Wall.

Our Children on Nakba : Palestinian children singing while soldier is watching from military watchtower:

Bethlehem Sumud women’s choir singing on the occasion of Al Nakba Day, 2011: 

Jerusalem and Bethlehem Churches organize a vigil along the Separation Wall between the two Holy Cities.

Al Quds Newspaper, June 5, 2011

Jerusalem – The Churches together with the Christian Organizations in Jerusalem and Bethlehem organized an ecumenical service and vigil along the Separation Wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem yesterday evening. This activity follows an annual tradition of the World Council of Churches in cooperation with the local churches. It has been part of the World Peace Week for Prayer. The following religious figures led the ecumenical service: Bishop Atallah Hanna, Archimandrite Joseph Saghbini, Father Ibrahim Shomali and Reverend Imad Hadad.

The prayer meeting coincided with the Palestinian Naksa Day. It added another dimension to this encounter by including prayers for Jerusalem and the access to this Holy City as well as its peace and holiness as a capital of Palestine. After the service was a silent vigil along the Separation Wall. The march was accompanied and covered by local and international media. When the marchers reached the checkpoint the soldiers rushed to close the gate from two sides to prevent participants and religious leaders from entering the gate of the Wall.

The procession continued marching in Bethlehem until they reached the Anastas family house surrounded by the Wall from three sides. There they stopped and video films sent from Canada, Germany and India were presented on the Wall. The films expressed messages of peace and solidarity. Members of EAPPI of the World Council of Churches pronounced letters of solidarity. A film about the Naqba Day, produced by the Christian Palestinian organizations during a march of 4th May 2011 was also projected on the Wall. 

The interchurch Ecumenical Centre in Jerusalem and the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem – two from among the organizers of this program - said, “The aim of these activities is a cry towards the world to put pressure on Israel to open Jerusalem, which is situated behind this ugly Wall.”

At the end of the event the audience – both church clergy and lay people - decided not to be involved in the practice of requesting permits to enter Jerusalem. Free access to Jerusalem is the right of all human beings in order to practice their religious rites at the holy sites of Jerusalem, which needs no permits.

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