On behalf of Israeli Jews, and Palestinian or Israeli Christians and Muslims seriously opposed to your highly controversial visit, we ask you, with compassion, to reconsider the consequences of coming to Israel/Palestine in this context.
This visit takes you to the heart of Occupied Territory in Bethlehem: a closed-off prison, a ghetto, whose civilians now have no work, no freedom, no life. They’ve finished their savings, live now on food handouts from foreign donor agencies. They’ve had their land taken, they have no justice through the courts, this entire city of ordinary folk trying to live a decent life, is imprisoned, while Israel calls the shots.
The International Court of Justice ruled the Wall and settlements illegal. In Bethlehem, the Wall annexes Rachel’s Tomb (a Muslim Mosque, too, with a Muslim cemetery nearby and a Christian site), in yet another Israeli land grab. Where you will be, at Rachel’s Tomb, is Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Wall, the Checkpoint right there, Border Police and army based there keep Palestinians locked in prison. Three million Palestinians are under full closure for the entire month of Jewish High Holidays. All to ensure further settlement development. At all times, they can’t get out. They’ll even have to pray at Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint, instead of their own Jerusalem holy site, Al Aqsa Mosque, at Ramadan next month, like last year.
In the last four years, we’ve killed five times more of their children, three times more of their civilians than the Palestinians have killed Israeli kids or civilians. We’ve taken their homes, land and villages, dignity, work. Bethlehem is a ghetto, with no work, and look - you a tourist - are you going to the Christian sites in the centre of Bethlehem?
All this is about apartheid, separation, and yet more abuse of power, causing the terror / resistance. The whole area’s been turned into a fortress, not a holy site, from which Israeli forces shot and killed unarmed Palestinian kids at the beginning of the Intifada. Does warlike aggression speak of spirituality? Rachel’s Tomb is descending into the darkness of rip-off, very far from LIGHT.
Next to Rachel’s Tomb is Ayda Refugee Camp - whose 5,000 hostages have been stuck there for years, forbidden to return to their homes in Israel. What about all the refugees rotting in camps in Lebanon and Syria, who pray to return home?
As a world figure, an international leader, a Christian and follower of Kabbalah, we ask you to do a reality check. Are you being used to legitimise the Occupation of Palestine? Are you being exploited, without your full awareness? Has your wish to bring peace been co-opted by other forces?
Madonna. Esther. We pray you’ll find the strength to set the example artists in the past have set. A spiritual role. One remembers apartheid South Africa, civil rights. Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson was here last month, on such a mission.
It would be good if you speak up. To take up the cause of the dispossessed. To be a voice for the mute, the dumb, the hopeless weak. The underdog.
By saying no. No to apartheid. No to colonial landaholic land-grabs that hide behind a “spiritual” pose, and lose all humanity, and stir up war, in doing so. Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no. One little word. The liberating: No.
In peace. (I hope we may meet to talk…)
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Advocacy Officer,