Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Hearing stories

Myron Joshua - Jewish Settler
Today was a bit different. Having spent most of our time visiting the holy sites, today we spent some time listening to stories.

Our first visit was to the house of the Anastas family. They experienced the wall being built on three sides of their smart Bethlehem house and lost all their business. Claire talked to us about the impact of the occupation on her family and business. It was very sad. Afterwards we bought gifts in her gift shop - sadly not many coaches call in these days.

Then we boarded the coach to drive to the Bethlehem Arab Rehabilitation Society Hospital in Beit Jala (BASR). BASR is supported by Embrace the Middle East and so we had the opportunity to hear about that partnership. There are particular problems in the West Bank, especially trauma and stress, and rehabilitation from injuries. The hospital offers a full range of services and also reaches out into the community to help people. It started as a hospital for disabled people, but now offers a complete range of services. It was most impressive and a model of how to provide services. We then had a delicious lunch in the hospital restaurant.

Our next visit was to the JAI Olive Tree replanting project. The Olive trees are so precious - we saw one tree in the Garden of Gethsemane that has been dated to the time of Jesus! However many of these trees are being destroyed to make way for Settlements. Replanting them is a sign of hope in the future as they take many years to bear fruit. We saw the new olive trees just planted.

Finally we spent a couple of hours talking to Myron Joshua, a Jewish Settler, living in Kfar Etzion. Ken met Myron in 2013 and spent an interesting afternoon at the Settlement. As expected, this was a most interesting visit. We saw a film of the origins of the Settlement and then talked about how to work towards peace and justice for all.

Myron sent us this message after our visit -"I did not come to soften or weaken the empathy and solidarity of the community to the plight of the Palestinians...of course. The challenge is a challenge to go beyond looking for who "started" or what is inherently "wrong" in the zionist enterprise..and begin looking at the challenges that history is demanding of us.. to look anew and think new thoughts." Thank you Myron.

Lots to think about.

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