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.”