At the end of Star Street in the Old City of Bethlehem, turquoise metal doors that are usually locked have been set wide open. In a cave-like interior, a group of women sits in the dim light on brightly colored pillows and sofas, discussing what it means to live as a woman in Palestinian society.“Last year, our morning workshops were almost empty. But now we had about twenty women, who all left the panel inspired,” says Lara Mitri, a project coordinator at Holy Land Trust, a Palestinian peace-building organization that has for the third year in a row organized [...]
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By Corey Janz When planning my trip to Israel and Palestine, I wasn’t fond of travelling there during the height of summer. But it couldn’t be helped. Why not? Well, it wasn’t because I was hopelessly attracted to the blazing heat like a mesmerized bug to a bug-zapper. It was because of Bet Lahem Live. Bet Lahem Live is a festival in Bethlehem that is put on annually by an organization called Holy Land Trust. The festival’s aim, if you’ll forgive my oversimplification, is to link up the international community with the Bethlehem community by means of the arts, with the [...]
Bethlehem creates a local market for renewed economic investment Star Street was once the bustling heart of Bethlehem's Old City, a vital link on the 1,500-year-old pilgrimage route from Jerusalem to the Nativity Church. Lined with white sandstone homes dating back to the 19th century, the street has long been a central part of Bethlehem identity and a reservoir of the holy city’s architectural and cultural heritage. Since 2000, however, the street has fallen into disrepair, its gentle facades torn apart by the Israeli incursions of the Second Intifada and the erection of checkpoints throughout the Old City's narrow alleyways. [...]
Historic Bethlehem- a place of pilgrimage, an economic hub, a flourishing city Bethlehem is one of the most important social, cultural and economic hubs in Palestinian life. Its status as the birthplace of Jesus makes it a place of fundamental importance in Christian narratives whilst Jesus’ prominence as a prophet in Islam means Bethlehem is also significant to Muslims. It is the setting for the story of Ruth and Boaz, making it significant to Judaism too. The city has thus been the subject of many pilgrimages, naturally becoming an economic center as people came to worship throughout history. Predating [...]
Bethlehem Live Festival: A space of hope In the context of a decades-long military occupation, where Palestinians livelihood in the West Bank are governed by military law, where Palestinians inside of the lands of 1948 are legally regulated to second-class citizenship, where Palestinians living in Gaza are have endured over a decade of military siege - being denied their most basic necessities - Bet Lahem Live is the small light shining in the darkness that allows the Palestinian community to gather in all our diversity and celebrate our history, culture, and a future of peace characterized by justice and [...]
Women take center stage at Bethlehem LiveRudaina Sahouri, mother of three young girls in Beit Sahour, West Bank, reminisced about her younger years and how different the situation is now, “In the past, and before I was a mother, we could go anywhere in Palestine or Israel without anybody stopping us; nowadays we can’t give this life to our children because its forbidden to go anywhere without special permission unless its Easter or Christmas.”Palestinian women are especially disadvantaged concerning mobility, economic opportunities, and empowerment as they are a discriminated group within an oppressed population.The experience of the occupation is generally [...]
Identity is what defines us, connection is what strengthens us. The occupation of the Palestinian people has manifested itself in many forms. One key form was the intentional separation and redefinition / re-identification of the Palestinian population within different socio-political structures receiving different privileges and entitlements. Instead of saying “Palestinian” we now say “48 Palestinian,” “Israeli-Arab,” “Jerusalmite,” “West Bank Palestinian,” “Gazan,” etc. This has resulted in new and sometimes competing or conflicting narratives to arise between these different sub-identities. ThIs program aims to strengthen the resilience of, and the recreation of a collective community based identity. The program aimed [...]
Building new communities By bringing Germans, Israelis and Palestinian civil and activist leaders to engage in understanding and healing the “Trauma Triangle” we bring attention to how historic inherited narratives of trauma not only shape identity but define how we relate to other identities. With the help of interactive and creative approaches, which pay particular attention to personal awareness and group-specific dynamics, the participants became aware of the narrative, psychological, and political patterns that disrupt and prevent interpersonal and communal empathy. The program takes a deep look into the inherited and personal experienced trauma and how it affects peace [...]
Turning a new leaf Most of the decisions we make in the present for the future are motivated by our past experience. What we think is possible or not is based on what has worked or not worked or the assumptions we have. When talking about peace and justice in the land, most say it will not happen or will take many generations. All these aspects do not allow for engagement; why engage in that which is impossible? Holy Land Trust believes that collective transformation starts with individuals transforming themselves to engage in making the impossible possible. In a [...]
Resisting oppression We are fully committed to Nonviolence as a means to resisting and ending occupation and oppression and creating a community that is structurally and spiritually founded on nonviolent principles. For over 20 years, Holy Land Trust has been a key player in the local and global nonviolent movement to achieve peace and justice. We continually work across local division, political lines, and international borders to unite the voices demanding justice and equality for all. We’ve worked on the ground organizing noncompliance campaigns, direct nonviolent actions, and international advocacy initiatives. We’ve been pioneering in our approach in setting [...]