Christmas Greetings from Bethlehem


Mazin Qumsiyeh | Popular Resistance – TRANSCEND Media Service

14 Dec 2023 – We have been writing annual Christmas messages of peace, for human rights, and relating sometimes what happened in the passing year–for decades. Since I returned to Bethlehem in 2008, these messages have been special. Since founding the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) in 2014, we also added greeting from PIBS.

This year, writing seems tougher than ever considering the ongoing and unprecedented genocide/holocaust occurring in Palestine. In the ten weeks before Christmas, more than 20,000 civilians (>8000 of them children) were killed. 2.3 million people were denied food, water and medicines while all means of life around them was systematically targeted for destruction. Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) are literally starving to death and dying from lack of medical care. 65% of Gaza residential buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged. Israel also targeted schools, hospitals, clinics, churches, mosques, bakeries, sewage and water facilities, electrical, communication and other infrastructure.

Rubble Nativity Scene in Lutheran Church, Bethlehem

We local Christians cannot “celebrate” or do decorations while injustice persists.  The Church of Nativity during this season usually received hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. Today it is shrouded in dark cloud. We can only pray and meditate on the need for peace and justice in the birthplace of the prince of peace. We native Christian Palestinians (the first Christians) reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian baby born in a manger here. We reflect on the real message of Jesus of love and caring for the oppressed and the suffering. The harsh reality on the ground reminds us of our responsibility to shape a better future. Bethlehem is home to 260,000 Palestinian Christians and Muslims including over 60000 refugees. We natives are limited to live in only 13 percent of our district while over 150000 colonial Jewish settlers live on stolen Palestinian lands of the district.  Bethlehem is besieged and blockaded. Bethlehem University like other universities is mostly offering courses online due to the apartheid system. Bethlehem is isolated from its urban twin city Jerusalem (5 miles away) via an apartheid wall destroying the economy for Palestinians on both sides of the wall. Israeli Jewish settlers and soldiers move freely and have taken over most of our land and natural resources and regularly attack us.

Nativity Square 2022


Nativity square 2023

Eight million of the 15 million Palestinians in the world are refugees or displaced people thanks to a meticulous Western-backed program of ethnic cleansing. The vast majority of Palestinians who remain are living in concentration camps like Bethlehem, Jenin, and Gaza under a ruthless apartheid fascist Israeli regime. Despite all of this, we are still hopeful because we take a long view of history. Some 100,000 years ago humans migrated from Africa using Palestine as the passageway to Western Asia and then the rest of the world. This is where our ancestors first domesticated plants and animals (agriculture and pastoralism) some 11 millennia ago. This allowed development of the earliest civilizations (in the Fertile Crescent), the first writings and the first thoughts of deities. Our Canaanite ancestors spoke a language we refer to now as proto-Aramaic. From this language and its first alphabet came the Arabic, Syriac and Hebrew languages and alphabets. Aramaic was the language of Jesus. Phoenician Canaanites evolved the Latin alphabet delivered it to Europe and it is the alphabet you are reading now. ‘A’ is from Aramaic Alleph (turn upside down to be the symbol of the bull) and ‘b’ from Beit (house) turn to side to see a domed house and so on.

People lived in relative harmony here with nature and with each other for thousands of years. Thankfully very few attempts to transform Palestine from a mixed society of various religions and backgrounds to make it monolithic. The latest such foolish attempt was to transform Palestine into a “Jewish state” (apartheid and ethnocentric chauvinistic state), a state that is failing though with significant bloodshed.

As we reflect this Christmas from Bethlehem, we aspire to a certain future when refugees
are allowed to return and all people of all religions live in equality and justice. Jerusalem/Bethlehem will then become a true light unto the world. We are grateful that there has been tremendous growth of actions by civil society around the world to push for human rights and justice in this “Holy Land”. This has included some significant actions for boycotts divestments and sanctions (BDS) from Israel in the same way we did with Apartheid South Africa.

So this Christmas we remember what Jesus said: “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 6). So think of us Palestinians as you think of Christmas and do boycott products that aid the occupation/oppression, see

History teaches us that injustice cannot last long especially when so many people join the struggle. We in this land will continue to struggle and yearn for freedom. We at at PIBS, Bethlehem University ask for your prayers and for your support (time and money) which helps us expand our work with thousands of Palestinians especially from marginalized communities (see And do come visit us or at least email us/stay in touch. Such are the best of of Christmas gifts.

May 2024 bring us closer to peace with justice.

Gaza – Mazin Qumsiyeh | Popular Resistance


Mazin Qumsiyeh, associate professor of genetics and director of cytogenetic services at Yale University School of Medicine, is founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-president of the Middle East Genetics Association. He won the Raymond Jallow Activism Award from the national Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. He is co-founder and national treasurer of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and has written extensively about the Middle East. Qumsiyeh is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine, a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem.

Go to Original –

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of Gaza, illegal occupation of the Palestine nation’s territory, the apartheid wall, its inhuman and degrading treatment of the Palestinian people, and the more than 7,000 Palestinian men, women, elderly and children arbitrarily locked up in Israeli prisons.

DON’T BUY PRODUCTS WHOSE BARCODE STARTS WITH 729, which indicates that it is produced in Israel. DO YOUR PART! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

There are no comments so far.

Join the discussion!

We welcome debate and dissent, but personal — ad hominem — attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated. Nor will we tolerate attempts to deliberately disrupt discussions. We aim to maintain an inviting space to focus on intelligent interactions and debates.

× 7 = 56

Note: we try to save your comment in your browser when there are technical problems. Still, for long comments we recommend that you copy them somewhere else as a backup before you submit them.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.