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Protesting Israeli Occupation of Bethlehem

Protesting Israeli Occupation of Bethlehem

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Question:

As a believing Christian, I made a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I was profoundly disturbed by the Jewish state and its criminal occupation of the West Bank. How can you justify usurping land that belongs to others?

Response:

You are entitled to your opinion on the matter. But I hope you are consistent in your beliefs. Being that you oppose a Jewish presence on the West Bank, I assume you will not be participating in any celebrations during the coming days. According to your view, there is no reason to be merry on December 25.

The Christian holidays celebrate an event that you have named a criminal act—the birth of a Jewish baby to a Jewish family living in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Your views should not allow you to have any part in this cheer, for if you did, you would be giving retroactive approval to a Jewish settlement on the West Bank that dates back more than two thousand years.

Perhaps you will be joined by the UN and other humanitarian organizations around the world in condemning any celebrations this week that are connected with this controversial birth, as such events would be recognizing the rights of a Jewish family to live on what you see as occupied territory.

However, I must warn you, by espousing this view and not celebrating, you will be vastly outnumbered. Not that it’s so bad to be in the minority; I personally have been all my life. But keep in mind, while you accuse Israel of occupying land, there will be two billion Christians around the world celebrating the fact that the West Bank has always been the home of the Jewish people.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Moss

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Anonymous January 2, 2016

I am a Christian who spent a month in Israel in October and I am completely appalled by people who blame Israel for the fact that there is no Palestinian state, especially considering Israel has offered them a state. The leadership does not want a state unless it is the entire state and their leadership incites the youth to violence and lines their own pockets with international aid. But everybody who blames Israel for this and does not put any responsibility on the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (or the surrounding nations who previously declared war on Israel and would not give full citizenship to the refugees they created) is a huge anti-Semite. Reply

Lea Kansas, U.S.A. December 7, 2014

The claiming believing Christian does know what she/he is talking about, but not surprising. Bethlehem is part of the Jewish inheritance land and should not be given to the Palestinian. Reply

Dianne Witzell Brampton December 6, 2014

To claim that Israel is occupying the land charge Israel guilty of usurpation of the land of others, shows that so-called "believing Christian" obviously does not know his or her Bible very well. You should have told him or her to go back and read it instead of listening to the anti-Semites who are trying to delegitimize Israel's right to the land. Reply

Anonymous US November 11, 2013

Constantinople a historically Christian city is currently occupied by Muslims, Temple Mount is occupied, Half of Cyprus is occupied... is anyone catching my drift here? all these occupations by Muslims. Reply

Jan T. Steinberg Houston, TX October 1, 2013

Apparently that "believing Christian" doesn't seem to be "profoundly disturbed" by the criminal acts of the Arabs - the murders, suicide bombings, and other killing of innocent men, women, and children, just because they are Jews. What does that "believing Christian" really believe, since so many believing Christians today support the Jewish State of Israel?. By the way, I believe it's an extreme act of courtesy and fairness for a Jewish news blog like Chabad.org to allow Anti-Semites to express their hateful opinions. Reply

Anonymous UK September 25, 2013

There has just been a very good documentary history programme on the BBC by Simon Schama called "The Story of the Jews". It was terrific and clearly demonstrated why Zionism is so important to the comfort and survival of the Jewish people. It is time for people to understand that Israel belongs to Israel! Good for you Simon Schama! Reply

Sarah Jerusalem Israel September 12, 2013

"...most of the world's Jews are barely similar to the people living in Israel/Palestine during the time of Jesus' birth. Ever wonder why European Jews look European, Iranian Jews look Iranian, etc.? Jews are not the same people they were 2000 years ago and this should be obvious."

You base your conclusion on skin and hair and eye color? That's racism. The DNA studies in fact show that most of the world's Jews are a unique people most closely related genetically to the Kurds and Palestinians--regardless of color. BTW, I live in Israel and there are as many blond and red-headed, blue-eyed and green-eyed Palestinians and there are Jews--you are trading in ignorant racist stereotypes. Reply

Anonymous May 30, 2013

The reason Jewish people today have such diverse ethnicity's yet all genetically share a common ancestor is very simple. Our women were raped by people claiming to serve god.
If you can show me where in any religion it says that raping women is okay.
Then and only then will your comments have validity .
In other words, Israel belongs to the Jewish people. Period.
As far as our claim to the land well guess what that claim is backed by action the only place in the middle east where a women of any religion has full human rights is Israel.
The only place where a an Arab girl can go to school and get an education is Israel. The only place in the middle east where rapists are prosecuted and convicted is Israel.
Not to people who murder women and children as the Palestinian population as well as countless of others have done to the Jews for centuries.
Reply

Jan T. Steinberg Houston, TX, USA December 22, 2012

Why would a self-proclaimed Christian root for the Muslims in their holy war against Judaism? It's because that person knows that the re-establishment of a Jewish State in the ancient homeland of the Jewish People shows that contrary to what this person was taught God still loves the Jewish People and hasn't revoked his ancient Covenant with the Jewish People. Since it's no longer "politically correct' to put it that way, it can be covered up by shedding crocodile tears for the "Palestinians". Fortunately millions of Christians have found that the deletion of this Anti-Judaism from their faith hasn't lessened its meaning or its beauty to them. Reply

Ari Korea south December 12, 2012

We all know what was Israel and what wasn't In terms of land of course What can we do about it ? Can we tell to the Palestinians : you get out of here and go ... How does this work ? That Bethlehem is jewish everyone knows , but Palestinians . Let our territory to Palestinias is no answer putting them under Israel , Palestinians will die for it and so well we . Sooo any idea ? Reply

Anonymous Camarillo, CA via chabadcamarillo.com November 18, 2012

The claim that 12/25 celebrates a "birth of a Jewish baby to a Jewish family living in the West Bank town of Bethlehem" is false in at least one, and probably two, regards:

First, the family was not living in any Bethlehem. They were merely passing through a place named Bethlehem on a journey of more than one day, and Bethlehem happened to be as far as they had gotten on the night when the birth happened. Even most Jews know the traditional story of there being "no room in the inn".

Second, at the time, there was more than one place named Bethlehem. The most likely location for the birth would be the Bethlehem (no longer inhabited) that was within the boundaries that Israel had from 1948-1967, not the one in the West Bank. Reply

Mikhiel Phoenix, AZ via phoenixjewish.com January 7, 2011

I am a first generation American and my mother is from Israel. Her family, while it has many branches, can trace its' history in Eilat back over 2000 years.

It says, in all documents of Faith, that Israel is the land of the Hebrew people. And it has said so for almost 2000 years. How can anyone protest the so-called 'occupation' of a area that is already ours? Reply

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org January 5, 2011

The Jewish connection to the Land of Israel originates from G-d himself as described countless of times in the Bible.

As for the claim that since Jews look different and many times similar to the inhabitance of the country they occupy they therefore are not the same people that were there thousands of years ago, this is simply fallacious if not outright deceitful .

I’ll just make mention of a recent study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, where it is proven genetically that all Jews regardless of their communities geographic location share a common ancestry dating back over three thousand years. For more on this fascinating study see the recent Newsweek article from June 03 2010 The DNA of Abraham’s Children. Reply

Eleazer Perez San Juan, Puerto Rico January 3, 2011


This is an excellent response to the question posed by Christians and other critics not aware of our history. Christians may want to study their so-called Judeo-Christian roots and inquire into Chassidus, Kabbalah, and Tanya, as this will expand their knowledge of who they are and where their philosophy came from.
Jews occupied Bethlehem and surrounding areas much more than 2000 years. Unfortunately, and with much respect, this question was presented with ignorance of the Converts to Judaism such as Ruth, Queen Sheba, and others that throughout history have accept the G-d of our ancestors. We are not one race, but peoples that worship the One True G-d, and follow His Commandments. Reply

IF RH, Israel January 3, 2011

Julia read the bible it is written there very clear. I am tired people constantly having the audacity to question the right of the Jewish people to live in their own land. Do I question you that you living on the soil that rightfully belong to the American Indian? Obviously your education is very limited or even nonexistent about Israel and the Jewish people. But many believe the lie that there are “Palestinians” people there is no such people, in no history books and there is no culture that they can claim. These people are Arabs from different countries that left because they didn’t want to live under their countries regime. We can prove every inch of Israel that it belongs to us the Jews, what can you prove? Reply

Julia Westminster, Maryland, USA January 2, 2011

First of all, the person who asked the question was speaking of the behavior of the state and the people who work for the state. When you associate an entire race of people (in this case, the Jews) with a state and the elite who run it (Israel) your argumentation makes no sense, and only exposes deeply authoritarian assumptions. The reader is not against "Jews"; just the actions of the state which, in the essence of totalitarianism, claims to represent worldwide jewry.

Also, most of the world's Jews are barely similar to the people living in Israel/Palestine during the time of Jesus' birth. Ever wonder why European Jews look European, Iranian Jews look Iranian, etc.? Jews are not the same people they were 2000 years ago and this should be obvious.

Tell me, how do these Israelis colonizing lands in which Palestinians are living and working justify their claim to that property? By entitlement granted by the state or by an entitlement stated in their holy book or how? Reply

Anonymous Perry, KS. USA December 30, 2010

Well said, Chava. And yes, I am sooo ashamed with people who claimed that they are Christians, and yet, they are sooo ignorant and arrogant about the history of the Holy land. The land do belongs to you and your tribes as God's decree almost three thousand years ago, and for that, any Christians out there who don't believe should be ashame for themselves for claiming that they are practising their faith.
Rabbi Moss, I thank you so much for this article and let the unlearned Gentiles of the world know the truth. Reply

Chava Docks Oak Park, MI December 30, 2010

Well said, Rabbi Moss!!!!
If Christians read and knew their Bible, as they claim, they would know the answer to this question. G-d gave the land to us, the Jews....it's written there in black and white. Reply

Anonymous December 30, 2010

Bless you, Rabbi Moss. Brilliant! Reply

Justin Simi Valley, CA December 29, 2010

I too am a Christian. And if we believe also in the same God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, we had better believe that God gave this land to Israel. Believe the entirety of God's word or stop calling yourself a believer in the prophesied Messiah. Thank you Rabbi Moss for sharing your reply. Reply