CALL TO ACTION

 

. . . helping children reclaim their childhoods

 February 27, 2010

We are sending out this CALL TO ACTION
to alert our supporters about a troubling development in the Oush Grab
Peace Park, the site designated for a 2010 PfP playground installation.

The Israeli military is trying to implement a decision to confiscate community
and privately held property belonging to the community and families in the
Palestinian Christian town of Beit Sahour.

Included in this swath of land is the treasured Peace Park,
which serves as a community space, park and recreational facility where
Palestinian families gather daily and was to be the site of one of PfP’s next
playgrounds.

We ask you to call and write to
Israeli officials in order to protest this action, call upon them to stop the
construction of the watchtower, prevent settlers from attacking the park, and
cease any idea of building a settlement in the site.Follow the link and enter zip
for to contact local congressmen – http://www.congress.org/communicate

Call the Israeli ambassador 202 364 5500 or email [email protected]

Email the Consulate General of the US, Jerusalem – [email protected]

Call the Israeli consulate in Philly 215 977 7600

Contact the Assistant Secretary
of the Bureau of Near East Affairs – Jeffrey D Feltman 202 647 7209

Injustice in Beit Sahour A Statement by Kairos Palestine(Jerusalem
20.03.2010) As described by town residents, Ha’aretz,Ma’an News,
and other sources in recent days, Israeli soldiers and bulldozers arrived on
February 10 at a family recreation park in Beit Sahour – a town slightly east
of Bethlehem in the West Bank, and the site of the former army base Osh Grab,
which was abandoned by the IDF in 2006 – and declared it a closed military
zone.

KAIROS Palestine condemns this action and calls upon churches worldwide to
advocate for the Christians and all residents of Beit Sahour and intervene in
the damage, present and projected, wrought upon their home.

Since 1967, Beit Sahour, one of the last Christian majority towns in the
West Bank, has repeatedly lost land to the Jerusalem municipality and to the nearby
settlement of Har Homa. Much of the remaining land was occupied by an Israeli
military base, Osh Grab. After the army evacuated the base in 2006, the Beit
Sahour municipality regained control of the land – largely private plots and
some public ones. (That said, all of the land remained part of what Israel calls Area C, keeping it under harsh
regulation by the Israeli State.) The municipality renovated the public land, built a recreational park and playground – the
“Peace Park” – and was planning to build a hospital as well.

Over time, fanatical Jewish settler groups have often threatened to take over
the site, protested there as part of their aggressive claim as its
“true” owners, and even physically vandalized the park, as they did
last month. As it stands, Israel’s
stated intention is to build a new watchtower: a troubling reassertion of a
military presence in Beit Sahour. The other worry is that this could pave the
way for a new settlement, which nearby settlers have been demanding for years.
As Amira Hass writes in Ha’aretz, “The Beit Sahour residents
have no reason to doubt either the settlers or the Har Homa neighborhood
committee chairman, who declared that ‘This could become a reality, just as Har
Homa spilled beyond what was planned and expected.'”

Either way, this new display of control on the part of the State – arriving
with bulldozers, excavating the site around the park, prohibiting the entry of
the Beit Sahour residents and various internationals who came to protest,
declaring the land a closed military zone – is a grave affront. It is painful
and unjust for some reasons of specific import to Christians (who form 80% of
Beit Sahour); others are simply questions of humanity and legality, crucial for
both Christians and Muslims.

First, the park area lies between two sacred sites: “Shepherds Field”
and the place, as told in the Bible, where Boaz fell in love with Ruth. These
are places of immense spiritual significance, and the State’s commandeering of
the land is profoundly distressing. (As we wrote in the Kairos Document, “freedom
of access to the holy places is denied under the pretext of security.”)
Second, the takeover is yet another example of the way Israeli occupation
displaces us, divorces us from our basic rights of mobility and autonomy, and
enforces a divisive view of human interaction that perverts the Word of God and
the love and compassion it calls us to.

We request the solidarity of churches in the international community: to
support us, to intervene in this latest encroachment on Beit Sahour and prevent
it from continuing, and to speak out against the occupation in all such
instances. We ask individuals and communities worldwide to contact Israeli
officials and condemn their actions, to write the mayor of Beit Sahour and
express support, and engage in other such forms of outreach and
network-building.

As we make these requests, we quote again from the KAIROS Document itself to
remind ourselves and each other of what is at stake and what we must call
for:”

Our connectedness to this land is a natural right. It is not an ideological
or theological question only…[w]e suffer from the occupation of our land
because we are Palestinians
.”

And finally: “We also declare that the Israeli occupation of
Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the
Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God…and distort [s] the
divine image in the human beings living under both political and theological
injustice
.”

Please join KAIROS Palestine in condemning these oppressive actions in Beit
Sahour and working to restore the justice that is both our calling and our
right.

We ask you to call and write to Israeli officials in order to protest this
action, call upon them to stop the construction of the watchtower, prevent
settlers from attacking the park, and cease any idea of building a settlement
in the site.

Please make appeals to:

[Ehud Barak] Minister of Defense, Ministry of Defense, 
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Email:[email protected]
Salutation: Dear Minister

Israeli Ambassador in your respective country

Copy to the:Mayor of Beit
Sahour
Email:[email protected]
Kairos Palestine: www.kairospalestine.ps
Email:[email protected]

KAIROS
Palestine
 is a group of Palestinian Christians who authored “A
Moment of Truth” – Christian Palestinian’s word to the world about the
occupation of Palestine, an expression of hope and faith in God, and a call for
solidarity in ending over six decades of oppression – and published it in 2009.

From our board member, Nathan Dannison, more information at –Here is a great background video re: the site:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9ZaFwi6WBo&feature=player_embedded
and more background information from decolonizing architecture:
http://www.decolonizing.ps/site/?page_id=428

Here’s two articles regarding my non-violent protest and its result:
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=204315
http://www.imemc.org/index.php?obj_id=53&story_id=56403

Here are some photographs of the event:
http://picasaweb.google.com/dannison/BethlehemPart2#5233543371141960338
(scroll forward to see more)

Here are my relevant blog entries:
http://michigantopalestine.blogspot.com/2008/08/praying-for-childrens-hospital.html
http://michigantopalestine.blogspot.com/2008/08/ush-ghrab-is-safe-again.html

Here is some troubling information regarding the current state of affairs:
http://michigantopalestine.blogspot.com/2008/08/ush-ghrab-is-safe-again.html

Also–Photos of popular resistance including tearing down the apartheid fences in Bilin
http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//100219/ids_photos_wl/r1248158112.jpg/#photoViewer=/100219/481/4865168bfb7a4784947f920bbbd07b13

Beit Sahour: a new struggle by Ben White – 21 February 2010 11:49, The Newstatesmanhttp://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/02/palestinian-israeli-settlers

 

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