FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

At the Church of the Nativity

by Larry Hales In Bethlehem

We walked right in to Manger Square–“right through the front door.” The writer in me wants to create some suspense, but I am ecstatic–my heart continues to beat at the rate it was when we were walking through.

We were planning the night before and were planning around another demonstration led by clergy. Our plan was to walk to the checkpoint before Bethlehem and protest. This morning we decided to participate in this action but to also continue on if the participants of it were stopped.

Well, we were stopped and the clergy weren’t so much interested in pushing through as they were in just challenging the checkpoint.

After this action, which lasted only about 30 minutes we decided to take a route through a monastery. No one expected us to get through this way either because the soldiers were very close, and if they were looking, would be able to see us. But, they didn’t and we continued on into Bethlehem.

The city was a ghost town, it was on curfew and it was almost completely quiet–at first. As we walked on, people began appearing at their windows and cheering us on. It was very powerful to see these people looking out and throwing up peace signs, children and elderly people. Our presence gave them hope and as we continued we began to see more and more people, mostly children coming out of their homes. They wouldn’t come out on the streets but they were coming out.

We stopped after having walked for quite awhile, and we began to plan for the march on the Church of the Nativity. No one thought that we would have gotten as far as we did. We planned and planned and waited and planned; finally, some of us decided to talk to some families that had gathered just in front of their homes, a few of them were fluent in English.

They were entirely full of gratitude–they let us into their homes and served us coffee–these people are resilient. Their lives are being put on hold by an occupying force; they can’t go to work; their children can’t go to school, yet, they were so willing to share with us. Some even invited me to stay with them.

Time began to get short; so, we had to go with the plan we had, which was for five of us to cross the barricade with water and food but we didn’t think that we would get through; and so, we were considering that the action would be symbolic at best. We waited some more and finally set on our way with a box of water and a bag of rice–meant to be symbolic of course because in the church there is barely any water, let alone a way of cooking the rice.

People began coming out more. I guess the word had gotten out. There was a group of Palestinians just before the barricade and some walked to it with us, holding down the barbed wire so that we could walk over it.

When we saw Manger Square we thought the siege had ended. It was empty except for an M1 Abrams tank. We walked on and at the halfway point, Israelis began yelling for us to stop. These soldiers doing the yelling didn’t have on their Kevlar helmets or their rifles–they were caught off guard.

We continued on through the yelling and made it to the door of the Church. When there we were instructed to sit by Huwaida. We did and the soldiers threw smoke canisters to block the press from seeing us. We knocked at the door and yelled that we had food; the soldiers looked on, the smoke rising. The tank moved so as to scare us. The media began moving so the smoke wouldn’t block their view. We held our hands up while yelling at the people inside to open the door, then, the soldiers moved towards us started pulling us up and throwing the food away from the door.

They were attempting to hold us but we were leading them more than them us. They tried to confiscate cameras, but we refused and they capitulated. However, they did drag some people. The soldier holding me was telling me how he didn’t agree with what was going on but that it was his job. He seemed to be a good man.

We were put in one area and Ted Koppel came over and interviewed Huwaida. He got the entire incident, all the cameras did despite the smoke. When he finished we came to the conclusion to walk out. The soldiers weren’t prepared for this. They tried to stop us but we defied them and kept on walking ’til we were clear of them.

The action was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen, and the people I was with are some of the most brave people I have ever known. Tomorrow we will begin to try and get some people in Hebron and the Gaza Strip. I will be going to Hebron. More to come.

Larry Hales is one of two members of the Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace who have joined many internationals in Palestine to nonviolent resist Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine.

More on their trip at: http://www.ccmep.org/palestine.html

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail