This year, Palestinian Christians are not only celebrating Easter, but also commemorating 50 years of alienation and apartheid under Israel’s colonization and military occupation in the Holy Land.
Nora Karmi is a Palestinian Christ-follower who is heading a Christian Palestinian movement known as “Kairos Palestine.” Nora grew up in Jerusalem and remembers with nostalgia Easter celebrations before the Six-Day War followed by Israel’s continued ethnic cleansing campaign and occupation of Palestine.
To this day, roadblocks, checkpoints and settlements make it increasingly difficult for Palestinian Christians to celebrate Easter in what they revere as the sacred Old City of Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem should be a place where Jews, Muslims, Christians and foreigners really look and smile at each other, [not] living in a ghetto, not being afraid… not monopolizing. So, I think it’s about time. You know, everybody is saying 2017 should be the culminating point of seeing that this city is liberated from everything. And I truly would love to see that. I truly would love for my grandchildren not to suffer the way I have suffered all throughout the 70 years I’ve been here,” Karmi said in a video made by Palestine Monitor.
Last year, on March 25th, 2016 or Easter’s “Good Friday,” Palestinian Christians marched together along the path between the Israeli settlement of Har Gilo, to the settlement of Gilo, in protest of the ongoing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank which continues to devastate Palestinian families and uproot them from their homes. This march was in accordance with an annual event which occurs every year on Good Friday, in which Christians from all over the world visit the Holy Land to walk along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, retracing the steps of what they believe to be the path Jesus tread on his way to his crucifixion. For those unaware, Israeli settlements are residential areas constructed by the State of Israel in occupied Palestinian territory, often times maintained and guarded by the IDF. More often than not, these settlements are built by exiling innocent Palestinian families from their homes, demolishing them, and constructing newer, more modern homes on top of the land for settlers to move into. Aside from the obvious moral dilemma this creates, these settlements also violate international law under the 4th Geneva Convention, which forbids states from transferring citizens from their states to occupied land.
Palestinians have repeatedly cited settlement activity as one of the many factors behind the failure of US-brokered peace talks in 2014. The State of Israel has not budged on this issue, stating that any future two-state solution or “peace” agreement with the Palestinians must not involve ending the expansion of settlements. The idea that Palestinians could achieve attaining their own secure, viable state, along with basic human rights and the right to self-determination while Israel continues to colonize their land is absolutely ludicrous, yet Israel is absolutely unwilling to negotiate this issue. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to promote the message that the State of Israel strives for peace, and that the only barrier to peace is the actions taken by Palestinian resistance.