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The Grinch who stole Palestinian Christmas

In light of the ongoing intifada, the municipality and Council of Churches of Ramallah decided to show solidarity by limiting manifestations of joy during the Christmas holiday season.
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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Activist Hekmat Bessiso recently wrote on her Facebook page, “If the birthplace of Jesus Christ does not celebrate Christmas, who in the world will? I hope Palestine remains full of lights every December. Our struggle is enduring, and this is why we should preserve our joy.” Bessiso's comments were in protest of a Nov. 23 declaration by the Council of Churches of Ramallah city and municipality to cancel the annual Christmas tree lighting and limit Christmas celebrations to religious rituals because of the current unrest. It said the decision had been made out of respect for victims and the wounded. As of Dec. 8, the number of Palestinians killed during the two-month-old intifada stood at 117.

Bessiso, a Muslim from Gaza, now lives in Ramallah. She told Al-Monitor that the annual tree-lighting ceremony in the city, held on Dec. 19, is an event she always attends with her son, Yazan, 10. She calls for preserving all manifestations of Christmas joy and celebration because, she says, it gives Christians a sense of belonging to this land, which would not be complete without them.

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