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Twinning with Palestine

The Britain - Palestine Twinning Network - "promoting twinning and friendship links"

Activities for the network in 2011 include * Women's visit - March * Twinning Conference in Palestine - April * Visits to Palestine April and October * Conference in Liverpool - November.

Twinning Info. / Visit reports - Godalming to Beit Sahour (November.'05)

On this page; Visit to Godalming / About Beit Sahour

The Visit of the Mayor of Beit Sahour and Elen Qassis

On 21st November 2005 Hani Al-Hayek, the Mayor of Beit Sahour and Elaine Qassis, one of twelve members of the municipal council, came to visit Godalming briefly while staying in Cambridge for a few days. They were taken to St Mark's hall where they were received by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Godalming and representatives of several local churches. A meal was provided for us all and afterwards Hani and Elaine told us a bit about the situation in Beit Sahour and what they're respective roles involve.

The sense of oppression, restriction and frustration that he and his fellow citizens feel came across very strongly when he spoke, "We want to experience freedom and we want our children to experience freedom, too. We want to be able to make plans and to be spontaneous.”

He explained how the people of Beit Sahour can't go to their lands to work, as soldiers stop them from moving freely.

He added that most of the Christians are emigrating. Yet the Mayor says this is his home: why should he leave?

The Mayor was obviously deeply moved when he told us that just 5 days ago (16th November) the Israelis had set up a new check-point at Bethlehem, which means that now entering or leaving Bethlehem is like crossing an international border and it is not unusual to have to queue. As a result the hotels in Bethlehem are empty and the people there are look set to lose everything. It is therefore important for Christians and others to support them, to visit them and encourage them to stay.

About Beit Sahour

The population of Beit Sahour is 15,000 people, of which 3,000 are Christians and 12,000 are Muslim. This is the highest proportion (80 %) of Christians in any Palestinian town. In general most of the Christians who once lived in the Holy Land have emigrated. This process has been going on since the time of the Ottomans or even earlier. 7,500 people from Beit Sahour live in Chile as the result of a wave of emigration during the 1920's and ‘30's. In most parts of Palestine the population is only made up of 11/2 % Christians. This is because Christians are able to attend church schools, where they receive a good education and so tend to be better educated than most other Palestinians. As a result many Christians want to go into the professions for which there are few opportunities in Palestine.

There are 4 churches in Beit Sahour, Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, and Malachite.

As Mayor of Beit Sahour, Hani Al-Hayek is responsible for education in the municipality. This mostly involves repairs to existing premises and the building of new schools.

With all the tribulations that the current situation in Palestine brings, Christian Palestinians feel that they are still suffering at the hands of the Jews, as Jesus did.

We can show our support by sending letters to the Israeli Prime Minister and Parliament as well as the Israeli embassy saying that we are against the building of the separation wall and the new checkpoint and border in Bethlehem.

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Events in 2011

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Women's Tour March 2011

Conference Palestine April 2011

Conference - Liverpool November 2011

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