Paul Calvert spoke with Elias D'eis

Bet Lahem Live: A Palestinian Greenbelt

The Travel and Encounter department at Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and Bethlehem Municipality is holding the first Bet Lahem Live Festival on June 13-16. It will be based on the mission and values of the longstanding Greenbelt Festival in the United Kingdom. The line-up includes artists from the UK; Garth Hewitt, Stu G and Martyn Joseph. Paul Calvert spoke with Elias D'eis, Project Director for the Holy Land Trust.

Paul: What is Bet Lahem Live?

Elias: Bet Lahem Live is a festival that we are working on and this festival is inspired by Greenbelt festival in the UK. As an organisation, The Holy Land Trust, we are a partner with Amos Trust in the UK and Greenbelt. We are trying to do something for Bethlehem; for the Bethlahemite and the Christian community here based on faith and art.

Paul: When is this going to take place?

Bet Lahem Live: A Palestinian Greenbelt

Elias: It will be June 2013 in the old city of Bethlehem; mainly in the three locations of Star Street, Manger Square and the International Centre, (the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem).

Paul: Is this for Palestinians, or for foreigners, or for both?

Elias: It's for both, but we are actually targeting the international community, like foreigners from the US and UK. Everybody is welcome to come, just to share. It's an eye opening for the international community about the situation here; the Christian Palestinian who lives here and the history of the Christians.

Paul: What's going to be at the festival?

Bet Lahem Live: A Palestinian Greenbelt

Elias: It's actually a festival and a conference; it's a mix. It will include lectures, workshops, performing in the Manger Square, singing, dancing, kids activities and tours. It will be a mix of different activities that we are going to try to reach the international community to come and live Palestine and live Bethlehem.

Paul: What message do you want to get across through the whole festival?

Elias: The message is to send the Christian Palestinian theology of the land and how we as a Christian live here and that we are rooted here and our history. We can play a huge role in peace making in the Holy Land and how the Christian can be involved in resolving the Palestinian Israeli conflict. We are targeting the Evangelical Christian in the US that they support Israel, but we are coming with a new theology. We are giving them the Palestinian Christian theology that's totally different than the Christian Zionists.

Paul: In a nutshell what is the Palestinian theology?

Bet Lahem Live: A Palestinian Greenbelt

Elias: Palestinian theology is based on Jesus' teaching of love your enemy, peace and how can you live Jesus' life and if Jesus comes today, what can Jesus do? The Palestinian Christian theology is based on justice, love and forgiveness. It's not about supporting one political agenda or another; it's just to try to live Jesus' life and Jesus' teaching.

Paul: Will you have music at the festival and who will be performing?