Salt Lake City – A free screening of the documentary “Open Bethlehem” by Leila Sansour will show local audiences the plight of the city of Bethlehem, located in Palestine but under Israeli military rule. In 2000, the Israeli government built a separation wall around Bethlehem that cuts it off from its sister city, Jerusalem. Tourists can visit Bethlehem only for brief periods.
The wall is controversial because Israel considers it a security barrier to prevent terrorism, while Palestinians regard it as a form of racial segregation.
Sansour, who is from an old Palestinian Catholic family, returned to her hometown of Bethlehem in 2004 to document changes to the city.
According to the website for “Open Bethlehem,” the film “spans seven momentous years in the life of Bethlehem, revealing a city of astonishing beauty and political strife under occupation.”
Sansour was born in 1966 in Russia, where her father was teaching mathematics at Moscow State University. She moved with her family to the city of Bethlehem in 1973.
While making the film, Sansour founded Open Bethlehem, an international campaign that has the mission to build a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine that will lead to dismantling the wall around Bethlehem and the rest of Palestine.
Sansour will attend the screening and answer questions afterward.
The local chapter of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is sponsoring the screening of the documentary because of its commitment to the spiritual betterment of its members and its active support of Catholics and the propagation of the faith in the Holy Land.
“We have a duty to protect the land where Jesus walked,” said Fred Strasser, area councilor for the local EOHSJ chapter. “Christians comprise less than 2 percent of the total population in the Holy Land, so it’s important that we continue to have a presence and keep our history alive.”
The EOHSJ is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the Holy See, with the pope serving as sovereign of the order. The origins of the EOHSJ go back more than 900 years to the First Crusade when the Crusade’s leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem. The order has 20,000 members worldwide.
The Utah Chapter of the EOHSJ has about 70 members, including Bishop Oscar A. Solis, 10 priests and three deacons. The local chapter is part of the organization’s Western Lieutenancy, which includes Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and southern California. The local chapter supports a number of activities. For information visit, http://eohsjwesternusa.org/.
WHAT: Documentary Screening
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Juan Diego Catholic High School main auditorium, 300 East 11800 South, Draper
Free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The movie starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A with the director and a reception. For information about the film, visit http://www.openbethlehem.org/the-film.html.