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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Articles related to Bethlehem


West Bank: Seats reserved for Christians in local elections
West Bank: Seats reserved for Christians in local elections

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has confirmed the number of seats reserved for each city to Christian candidates with a presidential decree, ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for 13 May. According to the decree, dated 15 March, eight seats out of 15 will be reserved to Christian candidates in the municipal councils in Ramallah and Bethlehem, and

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Bethlehem Briefing: Saving the world's oldest Christian community
Bethlehem Briefing: Saving the world's oldest Christian community

On 9 February the UK Parliament unanimously debated and approved a motion appealing for the resumption of peace talks on Israel and Palestine and condemning the ongoing construction of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The advocacy group Open Bethlehem submitted the following briefing for the debate: Open Bethlehem is a film and advocacy project that works to bring greater understanding of the challenges that face Bethlehem today with a special focus on the Christian

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Bishops delegation ends pilgrimage to Holy Land with call for action
Bishops delegation ends pilgrimage to Holy Land with call for action

For fifty years the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza have languished under occupation. An occupation - reads the final communiqué of the Holy Land Coordination 2017 - that violates the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis. As the group of Catholic Bishops who make up the 'Holy Land Coordination' finish this year's pilgrimage in support of those enduring the occupation, it is calling for justice and peace in the Holy Land and reminding the rest of us that "it is a scandal to which we must never become accustomed."

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Bishop Declan Lang discusses Holy Land Coordination visit - podcast
Bishop Declan Lang discusses Holy Land Coordination visit - podcast

Bishop Declan Lang is leading this year's Holy Land Coordination visit, which began on Saturday, with the aim of meeting and supporting the Holy Land's local Christian communities. The international delegation of bishops started by visiting the small Christian community in Gaza, then took part in the traditional Mass of the Peoples in Jaffa, hosted by the various national communities present in Israel. They will also go to Hebron and East Jerusalem, and delegation members will meet local bishops, students of Bethlehem University and the Mayors of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit

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Bethlehem: Capital of Christmas
Bethlehem: Capital of Christmas

Colm Hogan from Trócaire urges solidarity with the people of Bethlehem in his latest blog: During the Christmas period the name Bethlehem will be heard in homes, schools and parishes all over Ireland, and indeed the world. This is the place where Jesus was born, and today you can still visit the site of his birth over 2,000 years ago. But while Bethlehem captures the world's attention during Advent, it remains sadly forgotten at other times of the year. It is spoken of as though it is an historical place, not one where people continue to live and face injustices on a daily basis.

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Address by Primate of All Ireland to Mayor of Bethlehem
Address by Primate of All Ireland to Mayor of Bethlehem

"..We too have had armed soldiers on our streets, heavily fortified checkpoints and security walls which interfere with the normality that ought to be daily family and commercial life. We too have lived with the daily threat of bombs and shootings, and seen how sectarianism, hatred and bigotry can turn neighbours into enemies, neighbourliness into suspicion, culture and even religion into difference and division. At the same time, through the great blessing of God that is the peace process in Ireland, we also know that resolution and reconciliation are possible..

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 Bethlehem: Ancient mosaics discovered during restoration works at Church of Nativity
Bethlehem: Ancient mosaics discovered during restoration works at Church of Nativity

Ancient images are being revealed for the first time in centuries at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem which is undergoing major restoration work. Layers of candle smoke and plaster is being carefully removed from the walls and columns, and experts are carefully cleaning and reattaching the sparking mosaic pieces. Last month a 12th century angel was discovered under a layer of 19th century plaster. The works of the Basilica started in 2013 after Palestinian Minister Ziad Bandak,

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Bethlehem: Icon of Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls
Bethlehem: Icon of Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls

Graffiti painted along the Separation Wall, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem - from Banksy's Peace Dove to poems and inscriptions - is increasingly becoming a form of protest against Israel's occupation - similar to the art which burgeoned on the Berlin Wall in the 1970s and 80s. Near the Emmanuel Monastery in Bethlehem, an icon of the Mother of God can be seen on the eight-metre high concrete wall - revealing with its beauty the failure of communities to love one another. Made at the request of local Christians and some internationals, the

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Baqoun - Christian dancers from Bethlehem begin UK tour
Baqoun - Christian dancers from Bethlehem begin UK tour

Baqoun - a troupe of 16 talented young Palestinian Christian dancers are coming from Bethlehem to perform in England this week, under the sponsorship of the Anglican Diocese of West Yorkshire and The Dales. During their 12-day visit, Baqoun will be bringing a taste of Bethlehem and the Holy Land to churches and schools. They will be leading workshops and cultural evenings which aim to spread understanding of the challenges facing Christians in Palestine and the Middle East while offering a series of events which will include dance, drama, food

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Holy Land: Separation Barrier completed in Cremisan
Holy Land: Separation Barrier completed in Cremisan

The Separation Barrier dividing the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem has been completed, in violation of international law. 58 Palestinian Christian families are now unable to access their land. More than 400 families can only access their land with permits. Ancient olive groves, orchards and terraces that have been in the same families for generations have been bulldozed. Walls divide people, destroying livelihoods and futures.

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Bethlehem blog: He knows neither the place nor the time
Bethlehem blog: He knows neither the place nor the time

Among the group of teachers sitting in the sun before lessons start, Khalid Zboun is clearly the head teacher. All the teachers are drinking tea, the fuel of teaching, but Khalid is drinking his from a pint mug that wouldn't look out of place in a British pub. He needs to drink tea in such quantities because being head teacher of Al Khadr Boys' Secondary School, near Bethlehem, is a tough job. He knows neither the time nor the place that the Israel military will come.

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 Catholic charity boosts Palestine music project
Catholic charity boosts Palestine music project

A partnership between charitable tour operator Pilgrimage People and the Tunes for Peace Project in Palestine has been boosted after a visit to meet students and staff in Bethlehem. On April 22, a group from Pilgrimage People led by Catholic priest Fr Paul Maddison, from the Diocese of East Anglia, visited the project to see what difference the money it had donated to the cultural project had made. They listened in as students had lessons on a violin, piano and kanoon and then spoke to George Rishmawi, Director of the Palestinian Centre

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Report on US Evangelical conference in Bethlehem
Report on US Evangelical conference in Bethlehem

This month saw the fourth Christian Evangelical convention in Palestine as more than 400 delegates, mostly from the USA, descended on Bethlehem to take part in what has become an annual gathering titled 'Christ at the Checkpoint'. Thick American accents resounded across the Orient Palace Hotel. The old tried to negotiate their diet of 'Steak' with waiters offering few too many salads with tahini. The young paced the streets of Bethlehem smoking shishas with their Palestinian counterparts discussing Middle East politics, the Bible and,

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Letter from Bethlehem
Letter from Bethlehem

On Sunday, two Palestinian men were killed at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem after they took automatic weapons from their bags. One started to shoot in the direction of Israeli police. They were from the security police of the Palestinian Authority. Also on Sunday, 14-year old Yasmin al-Zarou and her sister were at an Israeli checkpoint in Israeli-controlled downtown Hebron. The army told afterwards that she tried to stab a soldier. Bystanders had a different version of events and saw her walking away from the soldiers. She too was killed.

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Malala becomes Citizen of Bethlehem
Malala becomes Citizen of Bethlehem

Malala, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize Laureate, and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, the United Nations Special Advisor on Global Education, have become citizens and ambassadors of Bethlehem. Malala said: "I feel very happy that I got the opportunity to see Open Bethlehem and also met the producer and director of the film Leila. The film artistically is moving and powerful. It makes you cry. It speaks for the freedom of people to have the right to live together no matter what their religion or nationality is. The film somehow had similarities to my life as

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International delegation of bishops visits Gaza and Bethlehem
International delegation of bishops visits Gaza and Bethlehem

The annual Holy Land Coordination pilgrimage of bishops from Europe, North America, and South Africa is now underway in Bethlehem and the Jordanian capital, Amman. British and Irish delegates include: Bishop Declan Lang representing England and Wales; Bishop Thomas McAreavey for Ireland; Bishop William Nolan from Scotland, CoE Bishop Christopher Chessun and Bishop William Kenney representing the Commission of Bishops' Conferences of the European Community. The group is visiting local parishes, schools and aid and development

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 Bethlehem celebrates another Occupied Christmas - Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabba
Bethlehem celebrates another Occupied Christmas - Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabba

At this holy time of the year, Bethlehem, the city of the Nativity, stands at the centre of attention of the whole world. What the world might overlook as it watches is that the very city where Jesus was born celebrates yet another occupied Christmas. This year, Israel, a self-proclaimed "safe haven" for Christians, has presented to Bethlehem a few unwelcome Christmas gifts. Israel's Christmas gifts to Bethlehem this year serve towards consolidating the separation between Bethlehem and its twin city, Jerusalem; the city where Jesus was born and the city

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Holy Land: Israel grants just 600 permits for Gaza Christians to visit Holy Places
Holy Land: Israel grants just 600 permits for Gaza Christians to visit Holy Places

While foreign pilgrims will be able to visit Bethlehem over Christmas, Israel is allowing very few Gaza Christians to make the journey. The Israeli authorities have issued just 600 travel permits to the 3,000 Christians living in Gaza. These permits last for one month, starting from Sunday, December 20. Palestinian sources said that the Israeli authorities have refused to give permits to Christians aged between 12 to 30 years of age. This means that most of the permits will be unusable, particularly those issued to children of younger couples,

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Become a citizen of Bethlehem this Christmas
Become a citizen of Bethlehem this Christmas

Open Bethlehem is an international campaign working to promote Bethlehem as a real and contemporary city in the Middle East - through the distribution of publicity materials and by promoting visits to Bethlehem through established tour operators and by developing a network of ambassadors for the city through the Bethlehem Passport Program. The campaign's vision is to support a lasting peace settlement between Palestine and Israel using Bethlehem as a doorway for global engagement. As an iconic city, and a Palestinian city,

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Send a Christmas message to Holy Land Christians + resources
Send a Christmas message to Holy Land Christians + resources

This Christmas Kairos Britain is inviting readers to send a message of support to those living in Palestine/Israel. Christmas in the birth place of Christ is characterised by occupation, blockade, military rule and poverty. We want to express our solidarity and support to all those suffering under this weight of oppression and let them know that they are not alone. As Christians we share in their burden and afflictions, standing side by side with them in their suffering. All messages will be sent to the Christian parishes in the Holy Land.

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Holy Land: land taken, ancient olive trees uprooted in Cremisan Valley
Holy Land: land taken, ancient olive trees uprooted in Cremisan Valley

Five months have gone by since the land in the area of Beir Onah, next to the monastery in Cremisan, was confiscated by the State of Israel. In August, bulldozers uprooted 50 olive trees which were as old as 1500 years in order to continue the construction of the separation wall. An account of the latest developments of the "Cremisan case", connected to the construction of the separation barrier imposed by the Israeli authorities, and built largely on Palestinian land, were published by the official media of the Latin Patriarchate.

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Bethlehem: Christians prepare for quieter than usual Christmas
Bethlehem: Christians prepare for quieter than usual Christmas

In the Holy Land, preparations for Christmas this year are much quieter than usual this year, after an outburst of violence across Israel and the West Bank in which at least 123 people: 105 Palestinians and 17 Israelis have been killed since 1 October. Many more have been injured. Extremist Jewish groups have also protested against the celebration of Christmas. The richly decorated Christmas tree is taking a prominent place at Manger Square in Bethlehem, and is brightly illuminated. Some streets are also decorated, but less brightly than usual.

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Bethlehem appeal: Church bells to ring for peace
Bethlehem appeal: Church bells to ring for peace

On Saturday, 5th December at 7.30pm, churches of Bethlehem will ring their bells for peace. Churches all over world are invited to join the event. The Church has entered Advent, a liturgical time of waiting for the birth of Jesus Christ. As in every year, attention is focused on Bethlehem, city of the Incarnation, where preparations for Christmas are in full swing. Considering the general atmosphere which prevails for the moment in the Holy Land, the Municipality of Bethlehem decided to maintain the calendar of planned events but with some changes.

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Holy Land: Call for protection & boycott  after another child is killed by Israeli army
Holy Land: Call for protection & boycott after another child is killed by Israeli army

A large demonstration passes our house. The flags show that all Palestinian factions participate. Shops are closed, there is a general strike in Bethlehem. My colleagues are at home too, and my son Tamer got a leave from school. We hear the Israeli army shooting. Yesterday a 13-year old boy from Aida refugee camp in northern Bethlehem was killed by the Israeli army. Possibly by fire from an Israeli military watchtower built in the Wall. After the Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and Nablous, hundreds of Palestinian youth have been injured during demonstrations,

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Bethlehem: Monastery set on fire
Bethlehem: Monastery set on fire

There was a major fire at the monastery of Mar Charbel in Bethlehem at the weekend. Many rooms were ablaze on Saturday and various parts of the building have been badly damaged. There were no reports of injuries. In the aftermath of the fire, the governor and the mayor of Bethlehem, the chief of police, the national security director and the head of Intelligence, went and inspect the monastery accompanied by Mgr William Shomali, and a number of priests from Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.

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Call for solidarity with Christian communities of Holy Land
Call for solidarity with Christian communities of Holy Land

Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Eamon Martin, Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of England & Wales, and Ireland, have called for solidarity with, and prayer for the Christian communities who live in the Holy Land. The Cardinal and Archbishop were returning from the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) which had been meeting in Galilee and Jerusalem at the invitation of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The European bishops visited the Christian communities in Nazareth, Mil'ya and Bethlehem,

.

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Bethlehem Reflection:  The bulldozer and the clarinet
Bethlehem Reflection: The bulldozer and the clarinet

Rev Saliba Rishmawi prays and speaks behind an improvised open air altar under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers behind him accompanied by an Israeli military jeep. He seems relaxed, but his words are strong. "Here it happens that land, trees and people are destroyed." It is Wednesday 2 September. In the presence of a German Pax Christi group from Augsburg we stand at the foot of the imposing high bridge in Beit Jala used by Israeli settlers traveling between Jerusalem and the Hebron and Gush Etzion settlements. A road that cannot be used by Palestinians from

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New Report: 'The Last Nail in Bethlehem's Coffin: The Annexation Wall in Cremisan'
New Report: 'The Last Nail in Bethlehem's Coffin: The Annexation Wall in Cremisan'

This new report by The Society of St Yves - Catholic Center for Human Rights is a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Cremisan Valley case. The report aims to shed light on the grave violation of building the annexation wall in Cremisan and its destructive effect on the Palestinian Christian families living in the area. The report aims to condense all the proceedings and developments of the case from 2006, starting with a review of the history of the case and its main elements.

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Bethlehem: Patriarch appeals for help as more Christian land is confiscated
Bethlehem: Patriarch appeals for help as more Christian land is confiscated

Patriarch Michel Sabbah, former head of the Latin Church in Jerusalem made a desperate appeal to the Christian world after Sunday Mass at Cremisan, near Bethlehem yesterday. Sabbah said: "The message to the Christian world, the international community and the Arab world is that this Holy Land is burning, dying and being destroyed, and if you really care about justice and equality, you have the obligation to stop this war, killing and destruction." ... "They claim it's their land, but they use their soldiers, their tanks, their military occupation to force their will - and it is not their land.

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Don't be scared. Come to Bethlehem!
Don't be scared. Come to Bethlehem!

'Come to Bethlehem! Christians need the solidarity of pilgrims'. This is the message sent by Sr Donatella Lessio from the Caritas Baby Hospital of Bethlehem. In a video published on Tuesday, Sr Donatella Lessio, who has worked at the hospital for many years, says there has been a considerable drop in the number of pilgrims, from Europe especially, because people are concerned about security. "There is nothing to fear!" Sr Donatella said. "Here everything is quiet.

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Holy Land: Children's summer camp in Bethlehem
Holy Land: Children's summer camp in Bethlehem

Around 200 children between the ages of six and 13 attended this year's summer camp in Bethlehem, funded by the Italian Episcopal Conference and led by a team of enthusiastic educators, coordinator Sister Anna, and Father Lwai, a Franciscan friar of the Custody of the Holy Land .During the final party, attended by parents, relatives and neighbours, the children had the opportunity to present all of the things they learned during the weeks of activities: dances, songs, plays and objects made during the workshops.

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Bethlehem: Day centre brings hope to isolated elderly people
Bethlehem: Day centre brings hope to isolated elderly people

Just two steps away from the Bethlehem checkpoint, there is a place that represents hope and newfound tranquillity for many elderly folk. In this town, many find themselves living on their own in their old age, and experience poverty, deprivation and solitude. The Antonian Charitable Society's Day Centre for elderly people, the 'Nadi' supports around fifty people three times a week. They meet to spend their mornings in good company, to take part in recreational activities, play cards and chat about the old times. They also find hope, care and love, offered by the nuns and volunteers.

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Recipes from Bethlehem
Recipes from Bethlehem

The chef, food writer and restaurant owner Yotam Ottolenghi interviewed Palestinian film maker Leila Sansour for the Guardian on Friday. He writes: This week's recipes come from Bethlehem, a city more famous for its long religious history than its culinary heritage. Even so, it's one of the Middle East's most important food hubs and home to some of the most celebrated Palestinian dishes. Located 10km south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is a green, fertile oasis on the edge of a desert that stretches all the way to the Dead Sea. Pilgrims throughout history have marvelled at the lushness of the land, with its fig and olive trees, herbs such as za'atar and sage, its wild wheat and greens.

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Pax Christi confronts  separation barriers in the West Bank - 8
Pax Christi confronts separation barriers in the West Bank - 8

Our Pax Christi UK group was sitting in a café in the old city of Jerusalem enjoying our final Falafal before returning home. Another group, dressed bright turquoise with yellow scarves, joined us at the two tables either side. The all black group hailed from the Catholic Archdiocese of Capetown and we were delighted to share stories about our two pilgrimages. As we chatted, it struck me as ironic that this group - 25 years after the end of apartheid, during which South Africa's black community faced severe repression - was now free to visit Jerusalem and yet the majority of Palestinians in Bethlehem, six miles down the road, cannot.

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Pax Christi  calls for recognition of  state of Palestine, ban on settlements
Pax Christi calls for recognition of state of Palestine, ban on settlements

In a final statement at the end of their meeting in Bethlehem, Pax Christi International has reaffirmed its recognition of the state of Palestine, a ban on settlements and its stand in favour of nonviolent struggle against occupation. The World Assembly of Pax Christi urges all UN-member states to recognize the state of Palestine and to ban Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. The 160 participants in the Assembly of the international Catholic peace movement in Bethlehem/West Bank from 13th to 17th of May are deeply concerned about Israeli policies that deny the rights

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Pax Christi's pilgrimage supports the 'Living Stones'  5
Pax Christi's pilgrimage supports the 'Living Stones' 5

On Sunday morning Pax Christi international members meeting in Bethlehem gathered outside Banksy's Shop beside the Separation Wall, huddled together in two ribbons of shade for it was an oppressively hot day. Yes, the famous British street artist was here in 2007. His cartoons on the Israeli-constructed Wall, which include the "Flower Thrower" and "Armoured Dove - are very much appreciated by the Palestinian community. Anyway, why were we there? We came together for a short pilgrimage along the section of the Wall that is near Rachel's tomb in North Bethlehem

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Israel bars Pax Christi leader from  attending anniversary celebrations in Bethlehem
Israel bars Pax Christi leader from attending anniversary celebrations in Bethlehem

... José's absence is a great sadness to us. We fully support our Secretary General. Knowing him to be a man of integrity, we can think of no reason why he should be refused entry. Speaking from Amman, José expressed his strong disagreement with the decision of the Israeli border officials and added: "I am living this experience in deep solidarity with the Palestinian people. This is only a small part of what they have to experience when they are denied access to East Jerusalem for medical care, family reunions and even for religious celebrations."

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Vatican to recognise Palestinian state
Vatican to recognise Palestinian state

The Vatican is to formally recognise Palestinian statehood in a treaty that will be signed soon, officials say. There have been talks between the Palestinians and the Vatican for 20 years. A Vatican press statement said: "The Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the State of Palestine, which is working on a Comprehensive Agreement following on the Basic Agreement, signed on 15 February 2000, held a Plenary Session in the Vatican to acknowledge the work done at an informal level by the joint technical group following the last official meeting held in Ramallah at

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Pax Christi's International Assembly opens in Bethlehem -  1
Pax Christi's International Assembly opens in Bethlehem - 1

Pope Francis and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, were among those sending messages of support to Pax Christi International's Global Assembly which opened this evening in Bethlehem. Founded in 1945, Pax Christi is celebrating its 70th anniversary, taking the theme, 'Pilgrims on the Path to Peace'. Around 160 representatives of Pax Christi member organisations and partners from five continents heard Pope Francis send "cordial greetings" and assure the gathering of his "spiritual closeness". Ban Ki-moon's warm message said,

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Bethlehem: Pax Christi International World Assembly
Bethlehem: Pax Christi International World Assembly

More than 160 peace campaigners from around the world will gather in Bethlehem this week, from 13 - 18 May, for the Pax Christi International Assembly - to celebrate 70 years of the movement and exchange views on work and plans for the future. A group from the British Section will be taking part. During their stay they will visit other parts of the West Bank following the meetings. A highlight of the visit will be celebrations for the canonization of two Palestinian saints: Blessed Miriam Bawardi and Blessed Marie Alphonsie Ghattas,

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London:  Open Bethlehem special screening at the ICA
London: Open Bethlehem special screening at the ICA

Open Bethlehem is screening at the ICA London on Thursday, 5 March followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by author Louisa Young. The film follows Palestinian director Leila Sansour's journey to the legendary city of Bethlehem, the place where she grew up. Armed with a camera and a family car that keeps breaking down, she sets out to make an intimate portrait of a historic town in peril. Ten years on, with 700 hours of footage, the result is an extraordinary chronicle of a decade of drastic upheaval that changes her own life and the lives of everyone in the town.

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Holy Land: Arson attack on Jerusalem seminary
Holy Land: Arson attack on Jerusalem seminary

In the early hours today, Thursday 26 February, an arson attack damaged the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate's Theological Seminary of Jerusalem, not far from the Old Town. The fire devastated a hall of the seminar and some annexes. The unknown attackers also wrote blasphemous sentences against Christ on the walls, in Hebrew. No one was injured. The attack was immediately condemned in a statement by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.

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Bethlehem mayors: 'the Wall in Cremisan will kill Christian community'
Bethlehem mayors: 'the Wall in Cremisan will kill Christian community'

Three Christian mayors from the Bethlehem area met Pope Francis at the end of the General Audience. Palestinian Catholic Vera Baboun, together with Nicola Khamis, Hani al-Hayek and Issa Kassissieh, Ambassador of Palestine to the Holy See. then were received by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.  Vera Baboun said: "They want to build the Separation Wall in the Cremisan Valley and then expropriate the lands that belong to Palestinian Christians. If that happens, the whole area will be choked by the Wall, 

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Holy Land: Israeli settlers uproot newly planted olive saplings
Holy Land: Israeli settlers uproot newly planted olive saplings

Israeli settlers uprooted more than 5,000 newly planted olive saplings in Al-Khader Village south of Bethlehem and in Turmusaya near Ramallah. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Popular Resistance Committee against the Wall and the Settlements in Al-Khader village, reported that the settlers uprooted 80 one year-old olive saplings from the Khader lands near the Hebron-Jerusalem main road close to Neve Daniel and El'Azar Israeli settlements.

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Holy Land: Christmas Message of His Beatitude Fouad Twal 2014
Holy Land: Christmas Message of His Beatitude Fouad Twal 2014

His Beatitude Fouad Twal gave his Christmas message through his Vicar in Jerusalem and Palestine, Bishop William Shomali, during a press conference held on Thursday  at Terra Santa College. The day also marked the inaugurate of  the new Christian Media Center (CMC)....'The celebration of the Birth of Jesus promises mercy, love, and peace to countless people in their suffering and tribulation; to people who see their lives shattered and their efforts broken in the tumultuous strife and hatred of our stormy days.

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London: Call for singers and players for Advent service
London: Call for singers and players for Advent service

Pax Christi is recruiting singers and musicians for their annual Advent Peace Service, which will takes place at St Aloysius Church 20 Phoenix Road Euston London, on Monday 8 December 2014 at 7.30pm, followed by an alternative and fair trade Christmas market and party. Rehearsals for singers and musicians will be taking place on the following dates: Rehearsals for singers will be on Sunday 30 November from 2.30pm - 4.30pm at St Aloysius Church 20 Phoenix Road Euston NW1 1TA

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Holy Land: US churches protest over latest Israeli land grab
Holy Land: US churches protest over latest Israeli land grab

On 31 August, Israel declared nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land south-west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank as Israeli State Land. This land seizure allows for the establishment of a new settlement around Gva’ot. This land is being expropriated from Palestinians living in Surif, Jaba’a and Wadi Fukin. This land is considered a community inheritance that provides land for natural population growth, agriculture and natural areas. The Mayor of Surif stated that the land was currently planted with olive and forest trees.

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Bethlehem: Boycott matters
Bethlehem: Boycott matters

At the entrance of 'Azza refugee camp in front of our house is a large 'Boycott Israel' painting. I can see it through the window while typing. After the horrible bloodshed in Gaza, Mary, the kids and I decided not to buy anymore any Israeli products in the nearby supermarket. That's not so easy because the shops here are full of Israeli products, as a result of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s (the so-called Paris Protocols, associated with the Oslo agreements), which in practice gives Israeli products preferential treatment.

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Film: Open Bethlehem - preview & interview with director by Melvyn Bragg
Film: Open Bethlehem - preview & interview with director by Melvyn Bragg

There will be a preview screening of Open Bethlehem - followed by an interview with Palestinian director Leila Sansour by broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, a Q&A and reception - on Wednesday 24 September 2014 at 7pm at the Royal Geographical Society, London. This feature-length documentary captures Bethlehem as it has never been seen before. Set against the backdrop of an increasingly desperate situation in Israel-Palestine, the film shows the ‘little town’ through the eyes of one of its oldest Christian families.

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Bethlehem: No children any more
Bethlehem: No children any more

While we hear the news about an UN school targeted in north Gaza with another 17 humans killed, a mail comes in from Jewish Voice for Peace quoting an American TV personality (Bob Schieffer, of CBS) who said that "the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause." Jewish Voice for Peace calls readers to ask the TV network to fire him. Yesterday I watched Hala Gorani of CNN speaking with Rifat Kassis, well-known from

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Powerless in Bethlehem
Powerless in Bethlehem

The family is glued to the TV showing horrifying images of the shellings in Gaza. A guest clicks with her tongue, expressing anger. We all look with an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. In the Shujaya quarter in Gaza city dozens are hit or crushed. We watch the head of a boy torn apart from the rest of the body. I am distressed by the BBC, which clinically speaks about Israel’s “intensified operation” in Gaza, and which wants to “cover both sides of the conflict,” as if there is symmetry.

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Holy Land report: Christian family that refuses to give up its farm
Holy Land report: Christian family that refuses to give up its farm

A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance - Daniel Silas Adamson reports for the BBC from Bethlehem. On his farm outside Bethlehem, Daher Nassar is picking apples from the ruins of the orchard he planted at least eight years ago. The fruit is scattered across ground freshly opened and imprinted with the tracks of a bulldozer. 

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Bethlehem eyewitness report: VIVA PAPA, VIVA FRANCIS
Bethlehem eyewitness report: VIVA PAPA, VIVA FRANCIS

Mary and I wave at the helicopters flying over the crowded Manger Square where the Pope will hold Mass this morning. When the crowd watches the helicopter touching the ground, they cheer and shout: "Viva Papa, Viva Francis!" Tamer is among the scouts who stand in line at the helicopter landing platform. He holds high the yellow Vatican flag. At our home we hoist the Palestinian and Vatican flags together, and on Manger Square Mary and I wave the Palestinian flag. Mary wears a Palestinian shawl designed for the occasion.

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Pope Francis in the Holy Land: 4 - address to Palestinian authorities
Pope Francis in the Holy Land: 4 - address to Palestinian authorities

At 7.30 this morning the Pope transferred from the apostolic nunciature of Amman to Bethlehem by helicopter, where he arrived at 9.20am local time he then undertook by car the journey of two and a half kilometres from the heliport to the presidential palace of Bethlehem, where he was received by the president of the Palestinian State, Mahmoud Abbas. Bethlehem is first referred to in the Bible in relation to the death of Rachel and is identified with the Euphrates (the fruitful). 

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Pope Francis in the Holy Land  6 - Mass by birthplace of Jesus
Pope Francis in the Holy Land 6 - Mass by birthplace of Jesus

This morning the Holy Father celebrated the Eucharist with a huge crowd, in Bethlehem's Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.  On the way to Bethlehem the Pope got out of the jeep and prayed before the wall dividing Bethlehem from Israel, after which he rested his head on it for a moment. He focused his homily on the Child Jesus and on children who are "a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world".

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Pope Francis to lunch with poor Christian families in Bethlehem
Pope Francis to lunch with poor Christian families in Bethlehem

Pope Francis has chosen to have lunch with poor Christian families rather than church leaders and politicians during his visit to Bethlehem. In an interview on behalf of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, said families were chosen by a special committee in order to represent the different Christian groups living in the town. After much deliberation, he said, the following families were chosen: - A family from Ikrit, a village in northern Galilee that was evacuated and razed in 1948 by the Israeli Army.

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Filmmaker writes on endangered heritage of Bethlehem
Filmmaker writes on endangered heritage of Bethlehem

Ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Bethlehem this week, Palestinian filmmaker Leila Sansour warns that the city's tradition of peaceful coexistence is in danger of vanishing completely. Writing in the Elders blog she describes the vibrant city where she grew up. Despite its global fame, no one has tried to tell the story of my town beyond the stereotypes of the Nativity or the brutality of military occupation. Yet Bethlehem does have another story, and understanding it is key to a meaningful engagement 

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Holy Land: Israeli bulldozers destroy family farm near Bethlehem
Holy Land: Israeli bulldozers destroy family farm near Bethlehem

Israeli bulldozers leveled large tracts of Palestinian land in the Bethlehem area village of Nahalin on Monday, locals said. Head of the village council, Majid Ghayatha, said that Israeli bulldozers uprooted dozens of olive and almond trees in the Wad Salem area. Several grapevines were also destroyed. Israeli military forces deployed on hilltops above the village to prevent land owners from accessing their fields. Locals said they believe Israeli forces are clearing land for a new road connecting the Neve Daniel and Beitar Ilit illegal settlements.

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Letter from Bethlehem - Christians wait for permits to attend Holy Week services
Letter from Bethlehem - Christians wait for permits to attend Holy Week services
It is Easter season. The permits to visit Jerusalem come late. Is that related to the stagnating “peace process”? After the Palestinian Authority signed up to a number of international human rights treaties Israel announced “sanctions” as a response to this “unilateral step.” But which peace process considers signing op to the rights of children, the handicapped and other vulnerable groups as a threat to peace – people ask themselves. Jara receives a permit, contrary to last year’s Easter; Mary and her sister not (yet?)
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London: Bethlehem Unwrapped - A twelve days of Christmas festival
London: Bethlehem Unwrapped - A twelve days of Christmas festival
The world-renowned violinist Nigel Kennedy is one of the performers taking part in a twelve day festival of music, art, poetry, film, comedy, food and dance at St James Church, Piccadilly. The festival opens on Monday 23 December with the unveiling of the 'Bethlehem Feast' a major art installation, created and hosted by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, with lighting design by Willie Williams (who has worked with names including The Rolling Stone, U2, Lady Gaga and Complicite) and the screening of a specially-commissioned film
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Holy Land: Soldiers destroy olive trees near Bethlehem
Holy Land: Soldiers destroy olive trees near Bethlehem
Local sources report that Israeli military bulldozers have uprooted more than 40 olive trees, in order to connect settler road #60 with the Cremisan Monastery in Beit Jala town, west of Bethlehem, and other areas. Orchard owner Hisham Abu Ali stated that the army previously uprooted 15 trees in his orchard in order to expand the road, and came back today to uproot 40 more olive trees. Road construction and expansion is leading to massive illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands in occupied East Jerusalem,
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EU protests as Separation Wall threatens to cut off school and monastery
EU protests as Separation Wall threatens to cut off school and monastery
The European Union has expressed concern about the ongoing construction of Israel's separation wall in the Bethlehem area on Friday. "The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah are concerned by the construction of the Separation Barrier, east of the Green Line, in the Cremisan Valley (Beit Jala)," a statement reads. "When completed along the planned route, the barrier will separate 58 families from their agricultural land and children from their school at the Salesian convent,
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Israeli forces raid Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem
Israeli forces raid Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem
Israeli forces raided the Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem late on Sunday, 28 July 28. Witnesses told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that Israeli soldiers broke into the monastery, held the people who were inside, and inspected their personal documents. The raid has been condemned as a violation of the sanctity of places of worship, and a violation of international law. Under Human Rights Law, Israel must “ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are fully respected and protected”,
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London: Garden Party to help Christians in Holy Land
London: Garden Party to help Christians in Holy Land
“Please don’t just pray for us – come and pray with us” - the spirit of these words, of Palestinian Christian Laila Asfoura, who lives in Bethlehem, inspired Friends of the Holy Land to host a midsummer garden party in the grounds of Our Lady of Victories Church in Kensington to raise funds for their charity. A string quartet played as wine and canapés were served and a prize raffle took place. Due to severe political and economic hardships, an estimated 300 Christian families leave the Holy Land each year.
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Holy Land: Storm forces Obama to see Separation Wall up close
Holy Land: Storm forces Obama to see Separation Wall up close
Barack Obama ended his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories today with a desert storm disrupting his schedule. Instead of flying to Bethlehem by helicopter, he had to travel by road, passing close by the massive eight-metre-high concrete wall that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem. Obama had to wait two hours while Israeli police blocked roads to allow the presidential convoy to pass through. Palestinians regularly have to wait up to eight hours to get through the wall to go to work, see family or attend church services.
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Holy Land: Amos Trust rebuilding hope
Holy Land: Amos Trust rebuilding hope
The Amos Trust has announced plans to rebuild a demolished home in the village of Battir, just outside Bethlehem. Battir is famous for its beautiful agricultural terraces and unique Roman era irrigation system, which have been proposed as a potential World Heritage Site by the Palestinian Authority following their recent acceptance into UNESCO. However the village the terraces and the Roman site are all under threat from the Separation Wall and the surrounding Israeli settlements, which have recently been approved for expansion.
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Holy Land: Christian community under threat of eviction appeals for prayers
Holy Land: Christian community under threat of eviction appeals for prayers
A Christian Palestinian writes: For more than a year, and regardless of the weather conditions, we have been conducting a religious service at Cremisan, Beit Jala, every Friday. The aim is to pray for peace and justice, against oppression and attempts to take over more of our land through illegal enterprises, including building the Wall and settlements. Within a month, we'll have a resolution from one of the occupation courts. Now, we need more prayers and political work than ever.
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Conversation in Bethlehem
Conversation in Bethlehem
This happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning to Dr Abdelfattah Abusrour, director of Al-Rowwad centre in Aida refugee camp in Bethelehem. He was in UK last month talking at SOAS....Wednesday, 21 November 4.30am... It was about 3.40 am, almost 35 minutes ago when I was awaken by a huge knocking at the door of a neighbor seemingly in Duha-Bethlehem. I went to look and the huge knocking started on my door... I opened the door, and I realized that I was in my pyjama, bare-foot... about four masked Israeli occupation soldiers were at the door, and further below more soldiers...
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Bethlehem: Israeli settlers destroy ancient vineyard
Bethlehem: Israeli settlers destroy ancient vineyard
Israeli settlers yesterday destroyed trees and vines and opened an unpaved road in private Palestinian land in al-Khader, an ancient town south of Bethlehem, according to a local reporter. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the popular committee against settlements in al-Khader, said Palestinian farmers arrived on their land on Monday morning to find that Israeli settlers had opened an unpaved road and dug a 30-metre escarpment, destroying trees and around 50 grape vines in the properties.
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Please support this film: They Came in the Morning
Please support this film: They Came in the Morning
Catholic film maker Leila Sansour has submitted a short (two-minute) film about Bethlehem into a national short film competition run by Virgin. If the film wins, it will be shown for a year in cinemas all over the country and beyond (including on Virgin flights) and will be entitled to a further prize, one of which, will again be selected by the public. The film: 'They came in the morning' is a very touching true story. It is unusual for a film like this to be out there against other more commercial films.
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Holy Land: Church of Nativity becomes World Heritage Site
Holy Land: Church of Nativity becomes World Heritage Site
The Church of the Nativity, traditional birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, and destination for Christian pilgrims for more than 1600 years, has been listed as a World Heritage site, by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at its 36th session on Friday, 29 June. The historic decision was approved by a vote of 13-6 in the 21-member committee, according to UNESCO spokeswoman Sue Williams, and following an emergency candidacy procedure that by-passed the 18-month process for most sites,
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Bethlehem Christians hope for Easter permits to enter Jerusalem
Bethlehem Christians hope for Easter permits to enter Jerusalem
Every year, Christians living in Bethlehem, on the West Bank, wait anxiously to see whether the Israeli authorities will grant them permission to visit Jerusalem for the traditional Holy Week and Easter church services. Although the two cities are just a short bus ride apart, they are divided by the Separation Wall, with gates guarded by
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FHL bring hope to hundreds of children and elderly people in Bethlehem
FHL bring hope to hundreds of children and elderly people in Bethlehem

While people around the world will be celebrating Christmas with special services,  parties, large meals and many presents, hundreds of poor people who live in the place where Jesus was born, are struggling to survive.  This year, one Catholic charity will be bringing hope to some of the most needy people in Bethlehem. Friends of the Holy Land will be supporting

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FHL brings hopes to hundreds in Bethlehem
FHL brings hopes to hundreds in Bethlehem
While people around the world will be celebrating Christmas with special services, parties, large meals and many presents, hundreds of poor people who live in the place where Jesus was born, are struggling to survive.  This year, one Catholic charity will be bringing hope to some of the most needy people in Bethlehem. Friends of the Holy Land will be supporting
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London parish hosts fundraising weekend for Bethlehem children's home
London parish hosts fundraising weekend for Bethlehem children's home
Orphaned children in Bethlehem will be the focus for a celebration and fund-raising weekend  at Holy Apostles, Pimlico, to  help disabled toddlers and children left  to fend for themselves on the streets  by their impoverished and desperate families.  The parish Justice and Peace Network is inviting Della Shenton, of 5th Gospel Retreats,
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Archbishop to lead first Annual Westminster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Holy Land
Archbishop to lead first Annual Westminster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Holy Land
A hundred pilgrims from 24 parishes are set to take part in the first annual Diocese of Westminster Pilgrimage to the Holy Land today. The pilgrimage, which will take place from 3 - 11 November 2011, will be led The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols,  Archbishop of Westminster. The pilgrimage itinerary includes Jerusalem,  Bethlehem, Jericho, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.
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Holy Land: massive demonstrations in support of Palestinian state
Holy Land: massive demonstrations in support of Palestinian state
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets in Ramallah and other West Bank cities in support of the application for the admission of a Palestinian state at the UN. The Missionary News Service reports that the event has brought one of the largest number of people on the street since the end of the second intifada in 2005.  There were street rallies in Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho as well,
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Glasgow: Bethlehem craftsmen create new mosaic for St Andrew's Cathedral
Glasgow: Bethlehem craftsmen create new mosaic for St Andrew's Cathedral
A mosaic showing the coat of arms of the Archdiocese has been laid on the floor of St Andrew's Cathedral, ahead of its formal opening on April 9.  The mosaic was created in the Holy Land by Palestinian craftsmen from Bethlehem, whose work graces some of the most important churches in the world. 
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Bethlehem: Living Nativity under Separation Wall
Bethlehem: Living Nativity under Separation Wall
The Arab Educational Institute has held a Living Nativity scene in front of the Separation Wall and the military watchtower near Rachel's Tomb in northern Bethlehem, Palestine. On the watchtower is written: "Once a Teacher of Human Rights was born." During the occasion, the girl standing in the grotto sang "Silent Night, Holy Night", while the women's choir of the Arab Educational Institute performed Christmas carols.
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Advent Message from Archbishop Conti
Advent Message from Archbishop Conti
I was recently in Bethlehem.  Today Bethlehem is no longer a village and in fact even considers itself a city.  Indeed it is twinned with a rather larger city; Glasgow – and who would not be happy to be twinned with the birthplace of Christ?  There are caves and rocky overhangs all over the area and our guide advised us to look at a mosaic in the lovely little church which marks the shepherds’ fields.
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'Holy Land' does not include Bethlehem - It's official!
'Holy Land' does not include Bethlehem - It's official!
The Israel Government Tourist Office (IGTO) has begun promoting a series of pilgrimages to the Holy Land, with itineraries that do not include Bethlehem, Hebron or Jericho. Instead, parts of illegally annexed East Jerusalem do feature, including the controversial 'King David's City' controlled by the Elad settlers.
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Bethlehem: Palestinians fund major repairs at Church of Nativity
Bethlehem: Palestinians fund major repairs at Church of Nativity
The Palestinian Authority has signed an accord with Christian leaders to repair the roof of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The £600,000 renovation project will be carried out by an international consortium supervised by Italian renovations expert Remigio Rossi, according to a report from AFP.
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Bethlehem community leader nominated for world peace prize
Bethlehem community leader nominated for world peace prize
Mr Zoughbi Zoughbi and the Wi'am Centre in Bethlehem has been nominated for the 2010 World Vision International Peace Prize.  The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR) has visited Mr Zoughbi at the Wi’am Centre, and hosted a UK speaking tour for him in 2007.
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Holy Land: West Bank borders closed, air raids over Gaza
Holy Land: West Bank borders closed, air raids over Gaza
All border gates in the Separation Wall around the West Bank were shut for 48 hours over the weekend - leaving pilgrims going to or from Bethlehem  stranded, workers unable to reach their jobs and patients unable to get to hospital. The Israeli minister of defense, Ehud Barak, said the measures had been taken "for security reasons".
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Holy Land: Israelis take over land near Shepherds Fields
Holy Land: Israelis take over land near Shepherds Fields
The Shepherd's Fields in Beit Sahour near Bethlehem, in the West Bank,  has for years been a popular destination for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. According to tradition it is where the angels announced the birth of Jesus.  But illegal Israeli settlers now are moving into the area and a hilltop near the Fields has already been occupied.
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Israeli troops attack congregation at Sunday Mass
Israeli troops attack congregation at Sunday Mass
Israeli troops fired tear gas grenades yesterday, breaking up an open-air Mass  about to begin  at Beit Sahour, a Christian town near the Shepherds Fields in Bethlehem. About 100 people, including elderly people and children, accompanied by some international supporters, had gathered on open land at the evacuated Israeli military base of Ush Ghrab east of the city for the service.
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Orthodox Christmas  in Moscow and Bethlehem
Orthodox Christmas in Moscow and Bethlehem
Orthodox Christians around the world are celebrating Christmas today.  During the Christmas service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow last night, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, praised  the Russian people
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Walled-in people of Bethlehem remembered during Advent
Walled-in people of Bethlehem remembered during Advent
Around the country, in schools, prayer groups, parishes and families, Pax Christi members and friends are sending messages to the people of Bethlehem for Christmas. This is part of a project that began some years ago with Pax Christi partners the Arab Educational Institute. I
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Israeli Court stops Gaza student from completing studies in Bethlehem
Israeli Court stops Gaza student from completing studies in Bethlehem
The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday to deny a Palestinian student from Gaza permission to complete her university degree in Bethlehem. Berlanty Azza, 22, has been in the West Bank since 2005 and had only two months of studies left in order to complete her Bachelor’s degree
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Pope Benedict visits hospital, refugee camp in  West Bank
Pope Benedict visits hospital, refugee camp in West Bank
Pope Benedict visited the main religious sites around Bethlehem, as well as a children's hospital and a refugee camp during his brief visit to the West Bank on Wednesday and Thursday.
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Bethlehem: Pope supports Palestinians right to a homeland
Bethlehem: Pope supports Palestinians right to a homeland
Pope Benedict had special words of comfort for the people of war-torn Gaza, and urged all to work for a just and lasting peace in the region, during his visit to Bethlehem..
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Bethlehem: Pope supports Palestinians right to a homeland
Bethlehem: Pope supports Palestinians right to a homeland
Pope Benedict had special words of comfort for the people of war-torn Gaza, and urged all to work for a just and lasting peace in the region, during his visit to Bethlehem.
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Bethlehem wine flows again across Israeli border
The Israeli authorities are once again allowing wine made by the Salesian friary at Cremisan, outside Bethlehem on the West Bank, to pass into Israel.
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