Open Bethlehem

Archbishop of Canterbury Condemns Israeli Wall Around Bethlehem

The Israeli-built wall is “a sign of all that is wrong in the human heart”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today in Bethlehem. Speaking to the town’s civic representatives shortly after walking through the wall, Dr Williams said the wall symbolised “the terrible fear of the other, of the stranger, which keeps us all in one kind of prison or another”, from which God 2,000 years ago came to release people. Dr Williams was speaking on behalf of a delegation of UK church leaders to the town of Christ’s birth, which included the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the moderator of the Free Churches, David Coffey, and the Armenian patriarch of Great Britain, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian. 

Bethlehem surveys show support for town of Christ's birth - and confusion over its location

Most Americans believe Bethlehem is an Israeli town inhabited by a mixture of Jews and Muslims, a pre-Christmas survey of US perceptions of the town has shown. Only 15 per cent of Americans realise that it is a Palestinian city with a mixed Christian-Muslim community, lying in the occupied West Bank. The nationwide survey, carried out by top US political pollsters Zogby International, canvassed 15000 American respondents. The poll, which is being released on the eve of the arrival in Bethlehem of the Catholic and Anglican church leaders in the UK, was commissioned by the campaign organisation Open Bethlehem. 

Bethlehem Welcomes Church Leaders' Visit

The Catholic and Anglican bishops of Jerusalem have welcomed the announcement by UK church leaders of their pilgrimage to Bethlehem. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Moderator of the Free Churches the Revd David Coffey, and the Primate of the Armenian Church of Great Britain Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian are to undertake a four-day visit to the Holy Land from the 20th-23rd December. The focal point of their visit will be a pilgrimage to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The visit has also been welcomed by Open Bethlehem, which campaigns to keep the city open to the world at a time when the Israeli wall and land annexations are causing hardship for its inhabitants. 

Congress grossly misled about plight of Palestinian Christians

In a letter to the American Congress on 13 June, Open Bethlehem’s chief executive Leila Sansour, a Christian from Bethlehem, expressed her community’s shock at the gross misrepresentation of the threat facing the Christians of the Holy Land. She urged Congress to pay heed to the plight of the oldest Christian community in the world. The ill-conceived resolution accuses the Palestinians of discrimination towards their own Christian community – and does so without consulting any local churches or Christian organizations. 

Open Bethlehem calls for an end to EU sanctions as Bethlehem faces disaster

As the situation in Bethlehem and the rest of Palestine approaches a humanitarian crisis, Open Bethlehem calls on church leaders, clergy, lay Christians and all who care about peace and justice to speak out against the EU sanctions and support the people of Bethlehem at this critical time. Over 70% of the population of Bethlehem now lives below the poverty line and unemployment has soared to more than 60%. Once a prosperous middle class town, Bethlehem has been economically suffocated and the post-election sanctions have brought the local population to the brink of disaster.