[This striking sight of a stark, 8 metre high concrete wall could be seen in front of St James’s Church in Piccadilly over the Christmas period.]
By Elham Asaad Buaras
A replica of Israel’s separation wall, which cuts off the West Bank and Bethlehem, appeared in central London during the Christmas holiday.
The eight-meter-high replica at St James’ Anglican Church in Piccadilly is a living art exhibit making a powerful point. It marked the opening of ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ a twelve-days of Christmas cultural festival at the Christopher Wren designed church.
The festival opened on December 23 and ran until January 5. It was staged by award-winning writer and director Justin Butcher.
Israel began building the Israeli West Bank barrier in 2002. When completed it will be a 400-mile long network of high walls, electronic fences, gates and trenches.
It is the most controversial barrier because much of it is built outside Israel’s 1949 Armistice (Green Line), annexing potentially 10 percent of Palestinian land, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
It cuts far into the West Bank and encompasses Israel’s largest illegal settlement blocs containing hundreds of thousands of settlers. Some Israeli politicians have admitted it is less a security measure than a new political border. Palestinians accused Israel of using it as a permanent border.
Rector of St James’s Piccadilly Rev Lucy Winkett said the festival is in response to a specific request from the united churches of the Holy Land for support by letting others know their story.
The wall deliberately obscures the facade of the historic St. James’ Church “because that is what has happened to Bethlehem’s holy sites and historic places,” says Winkett.
She added: “We are supporting a peaceful Palestinian principle known as beautiful resistance; expressed in theatres, music projects and festivals that exist to counter military dominance with a commitment to non-violent artistic expression.”
The wall – which emblemises the division of Palestinians by unjust policies – features lighting design by Willie Williams (who has worked with names including The Rolling Stone, U2, Lady Gaga and Complicite) and the screening of a specially-commissioned film to play on the installation created by Damien Hale, Luke Halls and Sam Pattinson of the Treatment Studio.