Bethlehem Wall in London

From Electronic Intifada

St. James’ Church in central London unveiled an eight-meter-high replica of the Israeli-built concrete wall that entirely surrounds the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, the traditional birthplace of Jesus. It is an effort to bring to London some of the reality of what it is like to live in Bethlehem in 2013.

The wall deliberately obscures the facade of the historic St. James’ Church “becausethat is what has happened to Bethlehem’s holy sites and historic places.” “This Christmas we’ve built a huge wall across the front of our church. We’d really like you to come and see it because it’s what the people of Bethlehem are experiencing today,” explains Reverend Lucy Winkett, rector of the church, in the brief video above.

The wall is part of the “Bethlehem Unwrapped” festival, which features a week of events, starting on 29 December, including music by Reem Kelani and Nigel Kennedy, comedy with Jeremy Hardy and Mark Steel, as well as films and panels.

From our comments: Giles Fraser writes:

The Rev Lucy Winkett is having trouble sleeping. This is because her church on Piccadilly has decided to erect a full-size copy of the Israeli separation barrier to block off her Christopher Wren church. And because she lives above the shop, the grim presence of this temporary structure is with her all the time. “Politics aside, living beside the 26ft wall is having a curious effect on those who are here. It dominates our imagination and has colonised our minds – and ours is only an art installation up for the 12 days of Christmas,” she told me and my 11-year-old son on a tour of the project.

It wasn’t straightforward explaining the whole project to Felix. A few days after watching our church nativity play with him, it was quite an imaginative jolt to realise that Bethlehem is a real place cut off by a concrete wall and that it has very little in common with the fantasy, Narnia-like version that is the stuff of Christmas cards. I attempted to give him a potted version of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, mindful that the sort of simplifications required to explain things to a young boy in half a minute were always going to fall into one trap or another. “So, whose side are you on, Dad?” he then asked. “Both,” I replied. He was dissatisfied with that answer


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