News Release

Bethlehem and the “Altar of Imperial Politics”


Al-Jazeera reports in “Palestinian official: Pence is not welcome in Palestine” that “Pence is expected to visit Israel later this month, with a stop in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.”

Rev. MITRI RAHEB, mraheb at, @RahebM
Raheb is pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. His books include Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes, Bethlehem Besieged and I Am a Palestinian Christian.

His “theological reflection on Trump’s speech” on Jerusalem got over 1,700 shares on Facebook.

Raheb wrote: “The Christmas story starts with an imperial decree signed by Caesar Augustus. As I was watching President Trump’s address yesterday evening on our TV, I could not help but think of the so-called Balfour Declaration signed 100 years ago when the British empire promised Palestine to the European Jews as their national homeland. Trump’s address [Wednesday] was indeed another such imperial decree recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Again and again we, the Palestinian people, are sacrificed at the altar [of] imperial politics. …

“This is not only a disappointment to over one billion Muslim people for whom Jerusalem is Holy, but also a blow to an even larger Christian community who kept a vision for an inclusive Jerusalem shared by two peoples and three religions.

“The situation is very volatile … the whole West Bank and Gaza are on strike. Our Dar al-Kalima University College [which Raheb is president of] is on strike too and we had to cancel our conference planned for today. …

“Most Caesars brought only bloodshed, destruction, and animosity to Jerusalem because they were not able to realize ‘what makes for peace.’ No decree will deter us from working for a just peace in Jerusalem. We will continue to raise the next generation of creative leaders for Jerusalem and to grow hope all over Palestine.”