Bethlehem Letter
Susan Atallah
Teacher at Bethelehem University
30th May, 2002

I keep telling my friends abroad that we canít plan anything in this country. This concept of planning your daily life is taken for granted for others, but not for the Palestinians. Weíre deprived of the basic daily-life requirements such as going to work in the morning, or making a phone call, or even taking a shower. People who read this might be taken aback and as usual, not believe how life could become so unbearable forPalestinians, on top of everything else. Iíll give you a personal example: Monday, 5:30 a.m., I woke up to make my morning coffee and get ready to go to school which starts for us teachers at 7:00. There was noise outside and I went on the porch half asleep to check whatís going on at this hour. Several jeeps and armored vehicles were roaming themain streets announcing curfew on Bethlehem. My first reaction was not fear this time, and not shock either since there were strong rumors that the Israelis are planning to invade Bethlehem again, but it was a sinking feeling that touched my heart since we havenít really gotten over the last incursion. We had barely started to reorganize our lives after the Israelis had pulledout of Bethlehem on 10th of May after an almost 40-day-suffocating siege and imposed curfew. I had planned to share a lot of what had happened with other people and tell them what kind of life we have been going through during those horrifying days when the Nativity Church was surrounded by those humongous tanks which make devilish sounds that would wake up the dead. But then I asked myself if it was really worth it for the others to know about almost 150,000 human beings who were caged in. Would it make any differenceother than pity? Would it make some people feel satisfied that the Palestinians are suffering and deserve more?

Today I had a lecture at Bethlehem University. The minute I saw my students there they told me that there are rumors again that we are going to have another incursion this weekend. Not again! What are the Israelis trying to do to us? Probably they are planning to destroy us emotionally so that we would be too weak and accept anything they offer. Everybody that I talk to is exhausted and we move about like we arelost, until I started to feel down myself.

Fortunately, I attended Mass which is dedicated to Virgin Mary at St. Catherineís Church and heard Fr. Amjadís homily; the message is we have to be patient and have courage and hope. The Bible says not to curse your tormentors and to weep with the desolate and the saddened people, to be there for the ones who lost aloved one, or lost a valuable thing like a house, a land etc.
We, the Christian Palestinians in this Holy Land, are asked to hold on to the message of the Bible andhave hope because God will not forsake us when others did. We should never lose that ray of hope and believe that injustice shall never prevail. There will be a smile on our faces, even though itís accompanied with tears in the back of our eyes and hearts, because we know that God will not abandon those who suffer underthe injustice of the whole world.