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  • July 2018
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Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

English: "(...) Entry of Pilgrims into Be...

English: “(…) Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time. It was taken in 1890.” (text from same source) Note: At the source of this picture, several pictures portray Christmas in Bethlehem in 1898 (not 1890). This picture seems to be the only exception. It could be that the indicated date is actually a typo… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza ...

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 21st, our family will be gathering with others in worship for the seventh annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem at the Washington National Cathedral.

Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In this age of turmoil and religious strife, it may be a surprise to some to know that Christians have religious freedom in Palestine and that Christmas and other Holy Days are celebrated vigorously!

The carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, was inspired by a pilgrim’s first visit to Bethlehem many years ago. This year it will acquire new meaning for me as we join in song with the “Living Stones”, as the descendents of the first followers of Jesus call themselves today. Let me encourage you to visit and attend church services in Palestine when you make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inspiration awaits.

Learn more about the writer of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, Philip Brooks and his journey, below.



Stop Killing Terrorists

Brother Andrew’s Prophetic Plea: Stop Murdering Terrorists | Christianity Today.

The Hazards of Speaking Up for Palestine

Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/...

Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/Palestine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve told my story before, how I grew up unreservedly Christian in the United States and accepted the importance of Israel in our (Christian) lineage and prophecy.

When I met a Nazi prison camp survivor during my college years, I was overcome with emotion. He was sitting across from me at a “dish-to-pass” we held each week at the Messianic congregation I attended in Philadelphia.

These were the years when the JDL (Jewish Defense League) was threatening to attack Messianic congregations in Philadelphia. Each Sunday, as we worshiped in our little storefront building on Chestnut Street, danger was palpable.  Heads would cautiously turn towards the front door each time it opened during the sermon, wondering what to expect.

I counted it a privilege and honor to be a part of my Jewish friends’ suffering for their rights to worship as they wished.

For years, I never questioned my high view of Israel. Meeting a Jewish person was, for me, like meeting a celebrity, because they were “God’s Chosen”.

The first time I realized others in the world didn’t support Israel in the same way that Americans did was in Indonesia. A good friend asked us why America always sided politically with Israel against the Arab world.

I hadn’t realized there were sides.

This was the first step in my education which continued as we traveled across the world and then returned home to host international students who held very different opinions from traditional American views.

This was especially clear as we discussed international issues with our Arab students, especially the one from Palestine.

We selected Ahmed because he listed his home as the “West Bank“, and we wanted to learn about him.

His stories were wildly different from the beatific scenes we associated with Israel. Were they possibly true? We began to read up on this area and ask questions. One book was unforgettable, “Blood Brothers”, by Brother Elias Chacour.   http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Brothers-Dramatic-Palestinian-Christian/dp/0800793218

Blogs were written about life in Israel contrasting it with the very poor conditions behind a wall separating it from the West Bank/Palestine.

I wanted to see for myself, so Jon and I took several trips to visit our Palestinian students, and then met Palestinian Christians who told the same stories about Israeli abuses.

When one is meeting a diverse (Christian, Muslim, educated, working class) group of people and all writers from that area are telling similar stories you cannot afford to dismiss their story lines as fantasy.

So, I resolved to return home as an advocate for the Palestinians to tell their stories. I am not

Bantustans, Palestine 2006

Bantustans, Palestine 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

anti-Israeli, but I will not cover up what they do.

It hasn’t been popular to speak up for Palestinians, but I’ve had it easy.

Others, like Steven Sizer, who has a prominent place in the UK, has his way of life threatened.

Read on:

Stephen Sizer: Craig Murray Responds to anti-Semitism Allegations.

Oxfam project in chaos after secret meeting | The Jewish Chronicle

Protesters at a Freedom for Palestine March

Protesters at a Freedom for Palestine March (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have visited OXFAM in Israel/Palestine. Christians and Muslims work there.

Sadly, it seems, Israel is intent on shutting every possible “door”, even aid to the poor, rather than deal with its own internal issues.

Oxfam project in chaos after secret meeting | The Jewish Chronicle.

Palestinian Outrage at Romney Is Understandable

During his visit to Israel last week, Mitt Romney remarked that Israel was so much further advanced than the surrounding

Stateless Palestinian refugees, 1948

Stateless Palestinian refugees, 1948 (Photo credit: BlatantWorld.com)

nations, comparing “her” quite clearly with Palestine… which, due to Israel’s control, isn’t permitted to have the status of being a state or nation.

One Democrat here at home commented that if Romney made such gaffes while he was a tourist, imagine what he would do as President.

I’m fed up with both the GOP and the DEMS, to be honest, but to blame the victim for being poor and “uncultured”, touched a nerve. Below, you’ll find two articles by others who reacted unfavorably.

Dear Mr. Romney: Palestinians are Poor Because You Stole from them and Kept them Stateless.

Democrat. Jewish. Still Voting for Obama.

We’re disappointed too…for one of the same reasons Emily Hauser mentions in her article in the Daily Beast.  Read on.

Democrat. Jewish. Still Voting for Obama. – The Daily Beast.

Guilt By Association?

English: Israel criticism not allowed

English: Israel criticism not allowed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a lot of talk these days about Anti-Semitism. The following article in The Atlantic,  by Robert Wright, addresses the use of this term to prevent any and all criticism of Israel.

Anti-Semitism exists. Neo-Nazis and some Muslims do want to push Israel into the sea. But, to claim that discussion of an entire nation’s politics is immune from criticism is ridiculous.

I’m just now reading Peter Beinart‘s book, The Crisis of Zionism, which discusses the growing awareness of this generation’s Jewish young people who are viewing Israel’s activities with an eye towards justice.  Perhaps there is hope for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict when these young adults come into power.

Neo-McCarthyism – Robert Wright – The Atlantic.