Here in their refugee camp, the Christians with no Christmas like us in the West have placed a refugee tent for Jesus, and there in the camp is a tent for another person who was also a poor refugee who had nothing.
Instead, the plight of the Palestinian Christian is very much connected to that of the Palestinian Muslim in that both experience injustices every day as a result of oppressive and discriminatory policies imposed on them by the Israeli Occupation.
Actually, we will never know the exact birth date of Jesus. But that really doesn't make any difference, for we know that Jesus was a real person who is still alive and is a very real presence in our lives today. Let us focus on that as we prepare for a blessed Christmas celebration.
Only a generation ago, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania had a steel mill employing tens of thousands of people at good wages. The typical casino worker today in Bethlehem makes $10-12 an hour. Many are part-time.
Human beings are story-telling creatures. Stories help us to understand our world, to find our place in it and sometimes our purpose, too. So, the distinctions we draw between fact and fiction are rarely as absolute as we might wish them to be.
This week, Israel has been safe and was my best travel bet. She wears a lot of beautiful hats -- and I've been embraced and hugged by them all. I was respectful in my behavior and they returned the kindness. I'm not religious, but I pray the next person finds Israel as happy as I leave it.
The distance between Bethlehem and Acco is about 113 miles, yet most of the women have never had the chance to meet one another. "Women can change the idea that we can't live together," said the organizer. "Because we can."
This is my favorite Christmas story because, until I heard it, I had never thought about the innkeeper. The innkeeper isn't part of most Nativity sets. I haven't heard any carols about the innkeeper. There don't seem to be any paintings that include him, either.
The lack of understanding in the West for the plight of Bethlehem and our silence in the face of its suffering is a metaphor for the entire Palestinian situation. In our mind's eye we can clearly see Israel and our imagined Bethlehem, but the Palestinian people of today do not exist.
This Christmas season, the story of a miracle birth in a quiet manger seems impossibly distant from the little town of Bethlehem that we know today. Two millennia after the birth of Christ, this ancient, holy city is quite literally being strangled in the shadow of the barrier wall.
If you have a miniature manger in your home today, or if you've heard a piece of music in the mall with "Bethlehem" in it, I -- as a Palestinian Christian in whose life Bethlehem has played a big role -- have a favor to ask you.