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date: 28 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes ways Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem use Christmas music to highlight the contrast between the former peaceful “little town” in the carol and the current situation of its population under Israeli occupation. An annual Christmas event is staged as a protest, but promotes nonviolent resistance to occupying forces. Organizers provide an opportunity for the expression of shared feelings of belonging and loss among local Palestinians, but are keenly aware that such emotivity can generate conflict and aggression. For this reason, the music at the festival is performed rather than participatory, and features lyrics celebrating nonviolence and peace, promoted as both Christian and universal moral values, alongside allusions to lost territories and the restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities. By drawing on repertoires of wide dissemination across the Christian world on a main Christian holiday, the event also draws international attention to the Palestinian cause.

Keywords: music, emotion, Israel, Palestine, Holy Land, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, choral, transnationalism

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