Israel continues to wall off Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus / UN releases report of Bethlehem's suffocation
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Dear Rabbi Gutow,
I want Israel immediately to stop isolating, imprisoning, walling in, suffocating and strangling Bethlehem, during the Christmas season, and every day of every year.
About 2,000,000,000 of my Christian sisters, brothers and neighbors all over my world believe Bethlehem is the birthplace of a Jew every Jew can and should recognize as a religious teacher and leader fully in our own historic and theological tradition of moral and ethical reform.
I am a U.S. Army veteran, and know what tasks are appropriate and decent for soldiers, and what tasks are shameful, miserable and grotesque for soldiers. Suffocating and intimidating the people, pilgrims, and commerce of Bethlehem is a shameful and unworthy task for soldiers.
Jews lead the sad roll of having experienced military and police interference with our worship and our pilgrimages. Jews should long ago have rejected the use of armed force and sealed walls to interfere with the religious observances and beliefs of other faiths.
Were this only a pragmatic matter of security, Israel's policies toward Bethlehem guarantee a worsening of support for Israel and a worsening of security for Israel. To the anger and hostility of Muslims and Arabs, Israel has chosen to add the anger and hostility of Christians.
As Jews each of us has a choice: We can be Teddy Kollek, or we can be Netanyahu. Only blindness and stupidity can convince us that choosing to careen into the future as clones of Netanyahu will bring Jews and Israel better, safer gifts than the marginalized and rejected vision and actions of Teddy Kollek. Bethlehem now is an assault against and insult to the achievements and legacy of Kollek's Jerusalem.