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Bethlehem wine held at checkpoint

04 December 2008

by Pat Ashworth

Stalled: the Cremisan winery near Bethlehem

Stalled: the Cremisan winery near Bethlehem

ALTAR WINE from a Roman Catho­lic winery in Bethlehem is being stop­­ped at checkpoints, where Israeli soldiers have deemed it a “security risk”.

The Cremisan winery of the Sale­sians of Don Bosco supplies pilgrim houses, hotels, and restaurants in Jerusalem, Nazareth, and other parts of Israel, and the sudden embargo has also made export to Europe from the port of Haifa impossible. Christ­mas supplies are unlikely to get through in this latest obstacle faced by the winery. Supplies of glass bottles were held up earlier this year.

Della Shenton of 5th Gos­pel Retreats, the wine’s UK im­porter, has appealed to the Arch­bishops of Canter­bury and West­minster, the Apostolic Nuncio to the UK, and the British Government to ask the Israeli authorities to end the embargo.

“It is sad that this Christmas, Chris­­tians are being denied the opportunity to be at one with the people of Bethlehem,” said Ms Shenton. “The wine has always until now flowed across the borders of mistrust in this troubled land.”

One UK customer, the Revd Dominic Barrington, Priest-in-Charge of St Peter and St Paul, Kettering, said on Tuesday that his parish had enthusiastically opted to help the people of Bethlehem by buying the wine. “We use the white wine labelled as altar wine at all celebra­tions of the eucharist in the parish,” he said.

“I’m not sure at what point we’re going to run out. We have one case left, and I’m very keen it’s replaced. This blockade seems to be the latest turning of the screws on the Palestinians by the Israelis.”

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