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Franciscan Friary,
St.Francis Str.1,





Date: 11.10.2005
Source: Custody of the Holy Land

Bethlehem 9 October 2005

Dear friends,

Peace and all Good.

Sometimes a lot of things happen on the same day. Last Tuesday was such a day. On the first place it was the feast of Saint Francis. For the celebration I went to Jerusalem, where I met several young friars, who I know from the time they studied in Bethlehem.

After the celebrations I went to the YMCA (the Young Men Christian Association and the YWCA for the young women. The meetings with the directors were good but not in order to become more optimistic. I heard from Abla that she had chosen to stay in Ramallah close to her mother-in-law. This means for her, that she will loose her job, because the Israeli authorities have ordered that no Palestinian from the West Bank is any longer allowed to work in Jerusalem. Also the institutes get more and more prescriptions for a permit. And always you can find something, which is not according to the rules and you loose your permit.

Abla spoke also about the visit of former European politicians like the former prime minister from the Netherlands, van Agt. It is significant, that even van Agt, from who is known that he is opposed to the Israeli politic, must recognise that the experience of the reality affected him more than he already knew.

Nevertheless the difficult situation Abla is still hard working and is doing her job fine, but she needs time for her self, which she will get.

The visit at Judeh of the YMCA was more or less the same. Also there I heard, that employees from the West Bank are no longer allowed to work in East Jerusalem. I spoke with him also about my visit to the States. He recognised the resistance of Americans against history. Often is said, that the reason is that America has only a short history, but I told him that my opinion differs. It is difficult for the Americans to deal with the past because of the killing of the Indians. It is not helpful to repeat this part of the past, because it is paralysing without a solution. It makes more sense to look what the American Senate did last June, when it recognised the failure of making laws against the lynching practice. This was an impressive step. The same is necessary towards the Indians in order to heal the wounds of the past, to show respect for them and to open a common future in dignity.

It was funny what Judeh told about a visit of group Americans, who couldn’t imagine that there are also Christians in Jerusalem. They spoke always about his Jewish nephew.
After these visits I went to my Israeli friends in West Jerusalem for their New Year. Then I went in a hurry to the Deheisha camp for the Iftar meal, the breaking of the fast after sunset.

Then I visited Toine van Teeffelen, the other Dutchman in Bethlehem. I didn’t see him for a long time because of my holidays and his trip to the Netherlands for the so called Peace Week. We spoke about the possibility of cooperation between the Arab Educational Institute and our youth house, especially in the field of the relations between Christians and Muslims, which is a sensitive subject.

In our youth house we started with new lessons of basic course English and Arab for young students. Now Asma has the responsibility for the educational part of our centre like the other women also have their own responsibility. I have to keep an eye how they are working.

Meanwhile the Ramadan has begun. I got already many invitations for the Iftar meal. It is an honor to get these invitations.
Yesterday morning I saw that the gate between the wall is ready, see picture. I saw also a child, he is about nine years old, trying to sell something. I gripped him at his arms and turned a couple of times around. He seemed to appreciate this. He could be for a moment a child. He was for his age light. Further he was alone there between the checkpoint and the wall. Greetings from Bethlehem, Louis

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