Saturday, December 23, 2006

While in Royal David's City

(try clicking on pic to activate. It worked for me!)

AS most people around me are rushing around getting ready for the midwinter festival called Christmas, a word from the place where it is all supposed to have started.

An independent school in Bethlehem has issued a worldwide appeal after hearing the news that part of their building is going to be demolished by the Israeli 'security wall' being constructed around the town.

Based in the Al Khader district of "Royal David's City", the Hope Flowers School is internationally renowned for its approach to peace and democracy education. Co-director Ibrahim Issa said: "The building of the wall near the school has started. Despite almost eight years of legal protest the school cafeteria has received a demolition order from the Israeli army."

The school is continuing its work: "Our peace programme continues. Last month we organised two interfaith conferences with the Israeli Interfaith Encounter Association from Jerusalem. It is vitally important to keep peace education going".

Because funds to the Palestinian government have been withheld by the US and EU governments, and Palestinian revenues have been seized by Israel, many neighbouring schools have closed.

In a Christmas email message to supporters Mr Issa said: "The school needs your support, like never before. The school is a beacon of light within a harsh reality. Today the 'Little town of Bethlehem' is imprisoned behind a giant concrete wall and a winding electronic fence. Huge Israeli checkpoints surround the area completely restricting the freedom of movement for Palestinians, preventing them from reaching the outside world, from gainful employment, from their agricultural lands, from pursuing higher education, from adequate medical treatment or worshipping where they choose."

Pam Perry, co-director of Jerusalem Peacemakers UK, whose
movement supports Hope Flowers School, said: "The situation is heartbreaking, more than half the children are malnourished. The plight of the West Bank is totally unacceptable. Please support Hope Flowers by writing to or emailing your local MP.” To make a donation, click on "How to Help" on the website at:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor are making a pi;grimage to Bethlehem this Christmas and have urged other Christians to visit Bethlehem

Meanwhile, a small group of friends from varied backgrounds raised their voices in London before being moved on by the powers that be. (See previous blog, A Maccabee puts Meaning back in Christmas! )

Over to singer Debbie Fink who was at Euston station on Thursday evening:

Dear all,

Thank you to those who came carol singing (some for the 2nd time) and thanks to Lizzie for bringing ‘Raised voices’ ! Thanks also to Gill’s husband Salaam, for making a special journey to drop off and pick up the placards. I thought today went well and it was a good time to catch commuters.

For the first time ever, we ‘raised’ money for this without asking/having a collecting box! Apparently, £8 was put in the leaflet box! I don’t know why we don’t actually have proper collecting boxes? We’d need permission, but we perhaps wouldn’t tell authorities in advance what the words of the carols are!

For those who weren’t there, the station manager asked us to move – he’d had complaints.......We did put up a fight as this was about free speech and some of them sang the protest song ‘international’ (I think that’s what it’s called....). I asked him to show us in writing what grounds he had to move us on – we were only singing - and why he’d not done anything about the drunks. Then, the police came out and told us we had offended people who had accused us of being racist. I explained that they are offended because they are in denial about what Israel is doing, whereas some of us (5) are also Jewish (and
Israeli), and offended by what Israel is doing.

At times like this, it is very useful to have Jews singing carols! After
that, half of the choir went home and the few of us left, sang to the bus queue –Thanks again and Merry Xmas, Chanukah and Happy New Year!


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At 6:04 PM, Anonymous rootless cosmopolitan said...

And there I was hoping our esteemed Christian PM would stand at the Wall that disgraces Bethlehem and say something in Arabic about him being a Bethlehemer. After all I am sure that JFK must have been one of his heroes, but that was too long ago and Blair does not do history, only sycophancy. So at the time of peace and goodwill to all, we are enjoined to act against Iran. We await developments.


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