Bethlehem Embargo

For 125 years the Salesians of Don Bosco have been producing wine to support pastoral and educational work among the poor of Bethlehem. The proceeds from the Cremisan winery, located in a suburb of Bethlehem support the work of the order and upwards of 30 families according to the Independent Catholic News.

But for the past several weeks, Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Hebron refuse to let the wine through.
But for the last five weeks Israeli soldiers at the Hebron checkpoint have refused to let the wine pass. This means that not only Christian churches, but also pilgrim houses, hotels and restaurants in Jerusalem, Nazareth and other parts of Israel are being deprived of Cremisan wine this Christmas.

Because the wine is shipped from the Israeli port of Haifa, the sudden embargo has also made it impossible for the wine to be exported to Europe. The soldiers have told Cremisan that the wine constitutes "a security risk."
Most of the wine is communion wine primarily exported to the UK. But not this Christmas.
[Birmingham Post] She said: “What has happened is really very sad. It was all working like a dream. I have asked the (Israeli) Embassy if they can shed any light on what is going on. What this is doing is causing havoc and distress. It is sad this Christmas Christians are being denied the opportunity to be at one with the people of Bethlehem by drinking its wine.

“The wine has always flowed across the borders of mistrust in this troubled land. There are many of us hoping and praying church authorities as well as the British government will ask the Israeli authorities to end this unjustified embargo.”
I can't imagine why communion wine that has been exported for years would suddenly be considered a "security risk" but what do I know. You certainly can't be too safe these days. Perhaps, just to be certain that this wine poses no future risk, they should send some soldiers into Bethlehem to destroy any bottle of wine less than two years old. That ought to do the trick.

Comments

  1. To say that this is a shame is an understatement. I had the opportunity to sample some of the Salesians' product in the Holy Land, and even brought some of it home to share with my parents. The Cremisan winery does great work in a very troubled region of the Holy Land, and puts out a very fine product.

    Unfortunately, the Israeli government is willing to shut down anything that they view as uplifting and supporting the Palestinians. Two years ago, when my group was in the Holy Land, the rumor was that "The Wall" would cut the winery off from the rest of the West Bank. The winery would then be considered a part of Jerusalem, and subject to Israeli rule instead of Palestinian rule. I don't know if that's still a possibility, but this action by the Israeli government has much the same effect.

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  2. Exactly--this is pure harassment from the Israeli government. This is their method of controlling the Palestinian people. They simply stick them with a thousand needles and hope they will move away, then Israel can take their territory. American needs an ally in the Middle East, but Israel needs to be just before it deserves any favors from the US.

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  3. Far be it from me to stand back from a pile-on, but it seems to me trucks loaded with communion wine heading into Israel *would* be a highly preferred target; maybe something is going on in the area?

    http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=FB87E1DD-1321-AEAA-D3DFA8622F3793A9
    says this has been going on for five weeks-- and that it's a two-way thing, with wine bottles and grapes being delayed, too.

    It seems like the past month has had a lot of excitement at this point, in the form of rioting Jewish settlers and an attempted stabbing of a lady Israeli soldier.
    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3846529,00.html
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3626341,00.html

    There may be even more, but that was just a few minutes of looking for possible other causes beyond being hateful.

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  4. Father Cory, I share your experiences and sentiments. The Israeli government may be a democracy, but I have never experienced a more totalitarian mindset, where nearly every Israeli follows orders lock-step with what the policy du jour is--no matter how inhumane, without so much as questioning. And who says Jews have cornered the market on guilt?

    When I was in Jerusalem, I was about to leave for Bethelehem for Christmas eve liturgy with a group of Palestinians living in Jerusalem with legitimate Jerusalem "passes". Just as the bus was almost done loading us in, a frantic man came and told all Palestinians not to go, as he had heard orders that no one without an Israeli passport or visa would be allowed back into Israel. All the Palestinians got off for fear of this happening. As I was getting off, my friends told me "no, you go. We'll see you here when you get back. We'll go next year." Sure enough, it took us an hour at the border on the way home as the soldiers took all our passports and sorted out who could come back in and who couldn't.

    I'm just surprised this particular story made it to the news. Maybe because the UK is disadvanteged on this one?

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