Israel_Palestine_security_wall_Christmas_tree_300pxby Monjed Jadou - It’s a Christmas tree, but it differs from the traditional one this year. It holds a clear political message reflecting the suffering of Palestine under the Israeli occupation. It’s a message for the world to wake up their conscience and help stop the aggression, walls and settlements imposed on the people of Jesus Christ. It’s a message of hope during Christmas time from the heart of Bethlehem, the Manger square and the Nativity church. Scenes from the 2010 Christmas service in Bethlehem's Nativity Church (Fabian Stamm, PNN).

A group of Palestinian youths gathered on Thursday and started to pull the attention of visitors and pilgrims of the church, as well as the local and international media, toward the issues of Palestine. They came from the National Campaign to Resist the Apartheid Wall. They started to build a Christmas tree consisting a trunk made of wall slabs, branches made of from barbed wire, and fruits of tear gas. The tree was surrounded by posters calling for local and international boycotts of Israeli products.

Palestinian activist Fadi Qattan told PNN, while working on decorating the tree, that the final product was called “the Apartheid wall tree.” It reflects the Palestinian reality under siege.

Qattan also said that this tree is a reminder to the world as it celebrates Christmas that the Palestinians are still under the Israeli occupation and subject to injustice, oppression, and racism, at a time where the entire world celebrates the festival of Jesus: the prophet of Peace, love, justice and human dignity.

Qattan said he hopes to put pressure on Israel and the world to end the occupation and allow Palestinians to live in freedom, away from aggression and oppression.

The activist Mazen al-Azzeh said he hopes the tree will grab the attention of all the Palestinians and the foreigners who visit Bethlehem for Christmas. Another activist, Mohammad Brejiyah, said that the tree presents a Palestinian religious and political message for the whole world. Brejiyah said that all the involved activists would work for the full two days upcoming to let tourists know about the Palestinian cause.

Brejiyah also said that dozens of youths published press reports and leaflets in English and gave them to journalists and tourists, explaining “the real situation” of Bethlehem.