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Christmas in the real "little town of Bethlehem"

In the place where Jesus was born, how do the Christians who live there today celebrate his birth, considering they have been living under a harsh military occupation for several generations (since 1967)?

What are Christian families' traditions for Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day? 

In this extraordinary year of 2020, how will their celebrations be affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Learn about Christmas today in the "little town of Bethlehem," from the Zoughbis, a Palestinian Christian family in occupied Bethlehem.

Zoughbi Zoughbi, the father of this family, is well known to thousands of United Methodists who have visited the Holy Land or have heard him speak on his travels. He is the Director of Wi'am, The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center in Bethlehem.
    Located next to a large Israeli checkpoint and watchtower, the Wi'am Center advances a culture of peace and acceptance while promoting nonviolent resolution to conflict.

Wi'am is also a United Methodist Church Advance Special, Advance #14910A. You can support their work by making a donation through the UMC General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM).


No people are more vulnerable during a pandemic than those living under an occupation regime. The Israeli occupation regime does not uphold the basic human rights of Palestinians living under their rule, making this whole year extraordinarily difficult for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Lately the number Covid-19 cases throughout the Holy Land have exploded. That is terrifying for those living in the occupied territories. Palestinian medical facilities are overwhelmed and do not have the medicines or equipment or hospital beds they need.

On top of that, Bethlehemites are extremely dependent on tourism for economic survival. Usually Bethlehem would be packed with worldwide visitors at Christmas time. Of course, now that is not possible, and the locals are themselves under lockdown.

So how will Bethlehem
– truly the world's epicenter for Christmas –
be celebrating the holiday this year?

We hope you will join us as we visit the remarkable Zoughbi family in Bethlehem.

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The last few years have been devastating for the Palestinian people. In 2021, they must see hope for progress in their struggle for freedom and equality.
In the global movement for Palestinian human rights, UMKR is leading the efforts in the United Methodist Church.

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UMKR is an international grassroots movement of laity and clergy in the United Methodist Church. We are responding to the Palestinian Christians' urgent call, in Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, for effective action to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a just peace in the Holy Land.
OUR GOAL: UMKR seeks – through nonviolent action and in partnership with Christians in Palestine – freedom, equality, and justice for all Palestinians and Israelis.  Learn more about UMKR

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