Non-violent “justice and peace” march:      Bethlehem – Jerusalem, 31 December 2001

Reference:  657PLE                                                         18 December 2001

Dear friends,

We would like to draw your attention to the following initiative on the last day of the year, December 31, 2001. A “justice and peace” march leading from Bethlehem through the main checkpoint into Jerusalem will be organised. The march will culminate in a human chain around the Old City walls symbolizing a protective embracement. The president of Pax Christi International, Mgr. Michel Sabbah, will lead the march in Bethlehem together with other church and religious representatives.

The non-violent “justice and peace” march is designed to make two simple but powerful demands for the new year:  “Open Jerusalem” and “End Occupation”

In announcing these demands, the marchers wish to express their deep-felt commitment to end the suffering and violence, and to work for a peace marked by justice and reconciliation. The march will be accompanied by international civilian observers who will form a “tunnel of protection” in front of the Bethlehem/Jerusalem checkpoint. They will also join the human chain.

During the march, participants will be encouraged to sing or pray. Local and international music groups will be invited to play. Participants will hold olive branches and wear various articles like caps, buttons and ribbons with the campaign sign. There will be moments of silence to commemorate all the victims of the violence. Wishes and prayers coming from persons from all over the world will be attached to balloons and distributed among the participants. At the Lion’s Gate, the balloons will be released, a gesture to symbolize the universal right to freedom. There will be texts in Arabic, English en Hebrew to explain the march’s aims and the non-violent nature.

The Bethlehem-Jerusalem march will fall under the responsibility of the Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem; Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People (GIPP); Civil organizations in the Bethlehem area including Arab Educational Institute (AEI), Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between Peoples, Conflict Resolution Center Wi’am, Arab Orthodox Society and  the Scouts Troops Leaders in Bethlehem. The United Civilians for Peace (UCP) will take part in the preparations as observer. The march is prepared in coordination with the High Islamic Council of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Pax Christi International repeats its appeal to its members and others to support this event by sending/emailing Christmas wishes and prayers for peace to Bethlehem. Please do this before 25 December 2001. The prayers will be included in a ceremony during the human chain on 31 December 2001. Prayers can be in English, which is preferable, or could also be in your own mother language. All messages should be sent to the Arab Educational Institute, AEI, Paul VI St., P.O. Box 462, Bethlehem, fax ++972-2-2777554, e-mail: -

Please spread this message by e-mail to people you know. We appreciate your support and involvement.

Etienne De Jonghe

International Secretary