On Sunday, Human Rights Watch released a 166-page report, "Separate and Unequal," which describes “the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians.” It condemns “such different treatment, on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin and not narrowly tailored to meet security or other justifiable goals” and calls for a number of actions to avoid supporting Israeli settlement policies, including for the US to withhold aid to Israel in an amount equal to what Israel spends on the settlements, about $1.4 billion. We pray for hearts and minds across the globe to be open to this report and its suggestions.
We pray for the many pilgrims coming to Bethlehem for Christmas, that they will be given the opportunity to see beyond the ancient stones to the “living stones,” the people of this land who are struggling for a life of peace with justice.
As Christmas comes ever nearer, we remember all those who gather for cultural events and performances. We give thanks for groups such as Shibat, or the “gray-haired ones,” a six-man rock ’n roll Christmas band who bring joy that is often absent in the struggles of daily life under occupation to young and old in this blessed season.