Banksy’s Christmas Card
'If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed'
If Joseph and Mary were making their way to Bethlehem today, the Christmas story would be a little different, says Father Ibrahim Shomali, a parish priest in the town. The couple would struggle to get into the city, let alone find a hotel room.
"If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed," says the priest of Bethlehem’s Beit Jala parish. "He would either have to be born at a checkpoint or at the separation wall. Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission – or to have been tourists.
"This really is the big problem for Palestinians in Bethlehem: what will happen when they close us off completely?"
Since the writing of the above article, Israel has authorized the construction of more than 2,600 homes in Givat Hamatos which means that for the first time in the 2,000 year history of Christianity, Bethlehem and Jerusalem will be completely cut off by illegal Israeli settlements. Bethlehem is now surrounded by 22 settlements, all built on stolen Palestinian land.
More than 170,000 Palestinian Christians live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, without proper political representation, freedom of travel, equality before the law, and many other civil and human rights. The occupation does not discriminate between Christians and Muslims — they both suffer the same.