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Video: Days before Christmas, Bethlehem erects ‘resistance tree’ outside Nativity Church

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Tourists, political leaders, activists and residents of Bethlehem gathered right in front of the Nativity Church Thursday night with an unusual message. While December is usually a time for cheerful Christmas celebrations at the Nativity, this year the people of Bethlehem have been unable to put aside the political turmoil for the sake of the holiday.

With Christmas just days away, the city of Bethlehem erected what they call a “Resistance Tree.” The tree, an olive tree which was recently uprooted by Israeli forces from a nearby neighborhood, was placed in the center of the main square, overlooking the towering Christmas tree and historical Nativity church. Instead of baubles and tinsel, the Resistance Tree was decorated with tear gas canisters clinking together like bells, photos of Palestinians recently killed or detained, Palestinian national scarves and sling shots.

At the “lighting ceremony,” the Mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun spoke to the crowd, “This tree is our message,” Baboun said. “We plant our roots and we are rooted to this land. Olive trees are the trees of life. We see our people’s eyes and the hopes of our women and the dreams of our men reflected off this tree.”

Around the tree, activists laid tear gas canisters in the shape of a star, lighting candles from the metal cylinders which were collected after protests in the city with Israeli forces.

“Even with the Israelis speaking a language of death, we speak a language of life,” the mayor proclaimed.

Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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Abed Al Qaisi

Abed Al Qaisi is a freelance multimedia journalist covering conflict in the Middle East and Europe. Abed has done work for Al Jazeera English, USA Today, Vice News and more.

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11 Responses

  1. Marnie on December 22, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Wishing the people of Bethlehem blessings and peace. Your strength is so inspiring and humbling.

  2. RoHa on December 22, 2015, 6:16 pm

    And I’m sure we will see this story featured prominently in our newspapers and TV News programs.

  3. Michael Lesher on December 22, 2015, 11:05 pm

    This is eerie, sad, inspiring — and deeply moving. This is what SHOULD be reported from Palestine. And it suggests what we need to send back.

    Blessings to the people of Bethlehem and all of Palestine; may your resistance lead to the rendezvous of victory and your mourning to joy.

  4. just on December 22, 2015, 11:32 pm

    Well said, Michael Lesher. The Palestinian people are the light unto the world.

    Sumud. It’s wondrous, spectacular and RIGHT. Happy Christmas, Palestine. Happy Christmas, Bethlahem and to all that suffer while believing and doling out care and kindness as the very best exemplars and representatives of humankind.

    End the Occupation. Free Palestine!

    • Mooser on December 23, 2015, 12:27 am

      “The Palestinian people are the light unto the world.”

      At first, years ago, I thought that couldn’t be true, and it didn’t matter if it was. It didn’t matter who the Palestinians are, what is being done to them is wrong.
      But it is true, and it does matter because that very light was used against them by the Zionists.

      • RockyMissouri on December 23, 2015, 4:23 pm

        That was lovely. Thank you. ????????

  5. annie on December 23, 2015, 12:42 am

    palestinians do speak the language of light and they light up our world.
    blessings to palestine with all my heart. thank you for your guidance, your resistance, and your sumud.
    merry christmas to everyone — especially palestinians!!


  6. Rodneywatts on December 23, 2015, 4:05 am

    “Even with the Israelis speaking a language of death, we speak a language of life,” the mayor proclaimed. Amen Vera Baboun! The very words that Jesus Christ would echo. Our hearts go out to all you who suffer the degradation imposed by Israel. Justice and peace will surely come.

  7. Froggy on December 24, 2015, 7:07 pm

    أجمل التهاني بمناسبة الميلاد و حلول السنة الجديدة

    Wishing peace and justice for the people of Bethlehem, and all the people of Palestine. First must come justice, for without justice there can be no peace.

    Nedeleg laouen ha bloavezh mat


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