LETTER: Bethlehem’s citizens struggle for justice

What would happen if Joseph and Mary traveled to the Bethlehem today?

Dear Editor:

There are many of you out there who are religious, and who believe in the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus.

But what would happen if Joseph and Mary traveled to the Bethlehem today? Bethlehem was one of the few cities that was not ethnically cleansed of all Palestinians in the Israeli/Arab War of 1967, but now has numerous illegal Israeli villages established around it in an effort to drive out the local Arab-Muslim and Christian population.

Towering walls and militarized fences now encircle Bethlehem, turning the 4,000-year-old city into a virtual prison for its Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens. Bethlehem has only three gates to the outside world, all tightly controlled by Israeli occupation forces.

Christians and Muslims in Bethlehem alike are bound together under Israeli oppression. The Muslim majority in Bethlehem does not persecute the Christians living there. They both suffer equally from the Jewish Israeli occupation and hardships of their economic situation.

In Justin Trudeau’s brief time in office, Canada has voted against 16 motions critical of Israel in the United Nations General Assembly– the only major country, alongside the U.S. to do so.

The support given directly by our Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to Israel’s government, should be condemned by all Canadians.

As Christians in Canada, you have a moral obligation to differentiate between fact and ideology, to be compassionate, and to join the Bethlehem citizens’ struggle for justice.

The Israeli government is no different than was the white supremacist government of South Africa.

We need to remind the federal Liberal Government that a condemnation of the Israel government is not anti-Semitic. That a support of the BDS project (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel is not anti-Semitic, but a realistic approach to send a message to that state that whatever they do against the minority Muslim and Christians in Bethlehem is a vilification of all of us — Christian and non-Christian — in Canada.

Frank Martens

Summerland

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