London church unveils temporary replica of Bethlehem’s “separation wall” [video]

St. James Church, Picadilly Square, Central London, Separation Wall, Palestine, Bethlehem Separation Wall, prefab 8 meter concrete wall in London, Bethlehem Unwrapped Festival

Too many people have an idealized picture in their head of what Bethlehem looks like today, but St. James Church in central London aims to change that with an 8 meter temporary tall wall that obscures the church’s façade. 

A focal point of the Bethlehem Unwrapped Festival that officially kicks off on 29 December, 2013, the wall was built to create solidarity with the Palestinian people who live in Bethlehem and also to give Londoners a sense of what the traditional birthplace of Jesus is really like today.

“We’ve spend eight months planning to build this replica of the separation wall in Palestine and eight days,” said festival artistic director Justin Butcher in the following YouTube video. “It’s taken a lot of scaffolding and a lot of hard work… and today’s it’s gone up and we’ve done it.”

Constructed out of long, thin prefabricated concrete slabs, the wall blocks St. James Church from view, a reality organizers say people living in Bethlehem cope with on a daily basis.

But even as Palestinians face this massive obstruction and other difficulties in their lives, most people continue to think of the Bethlehem depicted in the bible – a myth perpetuated in churches and Christian schools throughout the globe.

“We’re unwrapping the traditional, Victorian, sentimental images of Christmas and showing this is what Bethlehem today looks like – an eight-meter high concrete separation wall surrounding it,” says Butcher.

“St. James’s Church Piccadilly is delighted to be hosting this festival…, says Lucy Winkett, the church’s Rector. “At Christmas, when will be singing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ we are glad to be in solidarity with the people of Bethlehem by celebrating the culture of the land that Jews, Muslims and Christians all call holy.”

Unveiled just two days before Christmas, the wall will be up until 5 January, 2014, and Winkett urges Londoners to come for a visit.

Rather than create further divisions with this controversial temporary construction however, the collaborators behind the project, including Amos Trust, Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Interpal, ICAHD UK, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, P21 Gallery,Tipping Point North South, War on Want and Zaytoun CIC, hope to create a warm and welcome space complete with good music, comedy, food and films.

“The most unhelpful thing you can do is be pro one side; it just adds to the conflict,” says Sami Awad, Director of Holy Land Trust. “We have to not only understand those people who are oppressing us, but try to walk in their shoes, and ultimately to really engage with what it means to love our enemies.”

People are encouraged to write personal messages of solidarity on the separation wall before it is disassembled.

:: Electronic Intifada

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5 thoughts on “London church unveils temporary replica of Bethlehem’s “separation wall” [video]”

  1. Maurice Picow says:

    In much of the Christian World, the birth of the one who was heralded as bringing “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” was just celebrated. So far, unfortunately, this hasn’t happened yet. One can wonder if it ever will happen.

    1. Carol says:

      Here’s Jerusalem’s churches appeal to the international community about what’s going on

  2. Brian Cohen says:

    One can only surmise that the organizers will not go for the complete spirit of the wall – they won’t dress up somebody as a suicide bomber and come and make-believe kill two dozen or so people on the non-Bethlehem side of the wal
    Only makes one wonder even more at the innate evil and supiditidy of people who pretend they are religious or “want peace”.
    Maybe somebody should come and stage a mock suicide bombing to help them understand the real meaning of Christmas to the people who being helped by the “wall”.

    1. Carol says:

      Actually if they wanted to reflect the REALITY on the ground, they won’t just have the twice the height of Berlin Wall, they’ll show the more than 500 checkpoints in WB, they’ll also show the home demolitions, the thousands ilegally detained in Israeli jails without any charge, including the more than 700 CHILDREN a year blindfolded, tortured and detained.

      We should also show the largest open air CONCENTRATION camp of Gaza, that’s been under the Israeli siege for 7 years, being bombed before EVERY Israeli election killing and maiming THOUSANDS of trapped, defenseless people who are right now, as I’m writing this in the dark with NO electricity, no fuel, no medicine flooded by sewers

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