The project was developed form the annual candle procession that Rapprochement center has been organizing since 1991. The candle procession remains an integral part of this festival through which we send out a call to the world and also to the local communities in Palestine. Every year the march carries a new message and new theme. While the theme in previous year was to light a candle for Peace and Justice, for the release of Palestinian prisoners and for the removal of the wall and the end of violence, etc.
Another major component of the festival is the Shepherds Market which provides a platform for local businesses to display their products or merchandise and sell them at a fair rate during the three days of the festival.
The market also provides a chance to local artists to display their products, and encourage the Palestinian products at a time calls to boycott Israeli products are growing.
This year we are holding our festival under the slogan, Light a Candle in Solidarity with Palestinian People. The year 2014 is declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
In its resolution A/68/12 of 26 November 2013, the General Assembly decided to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (IYSPP), and requested the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to organize activities to be held during the year, in cooperation with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations. The objective of the IYSPP would be to promote solidarity with the Palestinian people as a central theme, contributing to international awareness of (a) core themes regarding the question of Palestine, as prioritized by the Committee, (b) obstacles to the ongoing peace process, particularly those requiring urgent action such as settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and; (c) mobilization of global action towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.
WHY ON CHRISTMAS?
In Christian traditions we are informed that the angels appeared to Shepherds tending their flocks in the fields near Bethlehem announcing the birth of Christ. The Shepherds’ Field (known in Arabic as Beit Sahour) is now a community of around 15,000 people. Thousands of pilgrims come to Bethlehem and Beit Sahour during the Christmas season to celebrate the momentous events and connect to biblical sites like the churches of the Shepherds’ field and the Church of Nativity. The local Palestinians follow customs of celebrations but have few venues of collective celebrations and the two communities (natives and tourists) have little interactions.
WHO ARE WE?
This project is being implemented in full cooperation and partnership between The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People (PCR) and The Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI). Both Organizations has very good reputation among its society and they have well experienced staff to carry out this activity. Both organizations designed the implementation plan after thorough evaluation process. Joint committees from both organizations have been formed to carry all the activities related based on the evaluation process. JAI has an experience for advocacy work and organizing events for locals and international, the PCR is well experienced, they have been organizing the candle procession for around 21 years and are also experienced in receiving tourists and international groups. Through the past six years, both PCR and JAI have accumulated experience in organizing such festivals.
IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
The project creates a festive atmosphere in the town. In addition, the money spent in the community contributes to the economy of the city during Christmas. Young volunteers of the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) and the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People (PCR) leave a very positive impact on other youth who are usually encouraged to be more actively involved in their community.
The project provides work for, vendors, electricians, taxi drivers, printers, and graphic designers, photographers, videographers and Radio and TV stations, in addition to sound technicians and the performing groups and shop owners. Local restaurants and businesses also find the festival a good venue for advertisement for their products.
Most importantly people will be aware reminded of the Christmas message of peace and love and will revive their national and justice inspirations to work for justice and end of oppression
Risks & Challenges
The main risk is being unable to secure the needed funds. If the funds are secured, there will be no other obstacles or challenges. We believe we have all needed aspects to have a very successful event provided that the funds are secured.