“Celebrate Christmas, but don’t forget today’s Bethlehem.”

Every Christian has a personal connection to the holy feast of Christmas. We have our family traditions and individual habits which are repeated every single year under different circumstances.

For me, the Christmas songs with their messages and unique atmosphere are defining the time of Advent.

In a morning these days, I was having a shower and enjoyed listening to an album with German Christmas songs. Suddenly, my attention was brought to a certain topic: the very central meaning of peace in the songs. The meaning of peace is spread from one city all over the world: Bethlehem.

It couldn’t be more ironic that just this city and its people are so much in need of peace. They are in need in a time in which there seems no end to occupation, in which there are no real negotiations and too many Palestinians are killed. 

As a foreigner, I feel ashamed that we always talk during Christmas about Bethlehem and peace, but don’t connect them in the present-day situation. 

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, on November 29, Pax Christi published the following demand: “Solidarity (with the Palestinians) must be more than a word; it must be visible, not one day, but every day.”

What is the specific meaning of this quote?

That is not an easy question to answer against the background of a very long conflict.

But a widespread answer is a simple one: Come and see. Come to Bethlehem and Palestine, meet its people and realize what is really going on. Realize what the needs of the people are and what they want. You will see that they don’t differ that much from your own demands. 

Accepting the truth and being open for it is one important step to liberation.

Furthermore, you can make personal connections with the Palestinian people, because a world of friends is a world of peace. 

Besides, political attention must be raised within your society. Attention to the relevant UN resolutions, the illegal Wall and a seemingly ever-lasting occupation. 

To sum it up, the message for this Christmas can be: “Celebrate Christmas, but don’t forget today’s Bethlehem.”

Till Flamme-Brüne

Pax Christi Volunteer at AEI