Christians and non-Christians gather in Manger Square, next to the Church of the Nativity, to celebrate Christmas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem
There is officially a new nation in the world: Palestine! The United Nations General Assembly voted on November 29, 2012, to approve the Palestinians' request to be upgraded to the status of UN non-member State, despite opposition by the United States and Israel. The Palestinian request was endorsed by 138 of the 193 nations in the General Assembly. Nine countries voted against the upgrade and 41 abstained. According to the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, the decision represents “the birth certificate of Palestine."
After more than 150 Palestinian deaths in the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped the negotiations for a cease-fire towards ending the violence in Gaza. If peace persists, there should be a different Christmas in the new Palestine this year. Despite not being a Christian country, Christmas celebration is a tradition in Palestine. In fact, only about 20% of Palestinians are Christian, but many Muslim Palestinians are also proud that Jesus was born in Palestine! Traditional celebrations include decorations with lights, musical parades and people dressing up as Santa Claus and giving out sweets. In Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born, Christmas celebrations attracted more than 100,000 visitors in 2011, and many more are expected to visit the city this year.
What about the dream of peace in Palestine? Will the newborn state improve the negotiations for peace? Will this Christmas season be any different from the previous ones? That is the hope of millions of people, but so far many leaders and experts around the world doubt that the new state will make any difference in the continuing effort to bring peace to the region.
Anyway, let’s join Palestine in the hope for world peace and a blessed holiday season: MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you!
Leadership faculty members take a moment during a meeting to engage in some pre-Christmas celebration.
Posted 27th May 2013 by Robson Marinho