Friday, April 12, 2013

What Do You Want To Tell The American People?

It's not very original, but it's the question I decided to ask as many as I could on this trip. I've just begun, but here are a few early returns.

LYDIA MUSHAHWAR, the young woman I described in an earlier posting, was reluctant, but after repeatedly pestering her, she said - "Just tell them to do what they think is right, no matter what it costs. It's important to do the right thing - and only they can decide what that is. I just don't want to get my hopes up, and be disappointed again."

ABUNA HANNA, the priest at St. Andrew's in Ramallah said, "Come visit us; come and see who we are and how we live. You will only understand what is happening here if you come see it yourself."

My friend, MO, who feeds me so well was more blunt. He said "If America would finally say no to Netanyahu, our situation could change overnight. Tell the American people to to tell their government to stop siding with Israel."

HAROUT SANDROUNI, whose Armenian Art Center in the old city is a showcase for beautiful ceramics repeats what I hear from others. "Tell them to do the right thing." To say Harout is disappointed with the US government would be a massive understatement. These are not his words, but I have no doubt he would add, "If you don't know what the right thing is, come here and see what is happening to the Palestinian people."

If I'm ever in need of an infusion of positive energy, KHITAM EDELBI is the one to whom I will turn.  As described earlier, she is a talented art therapist whose vocation is healing. Sitting with Khitam and Al Miller at lunch at the Jerusalem Hotel, Khitam answered with a conviction for which written words are wholly inadequate, "Do the right thing - tell people the truth!"

I sat with a friend this morning in St George's garden following Sunday liturgy. We shared medical adventures and she told me of relatively recent surgery on a tumor lodged in the thoracic area of her spine. After other physicians misdiagnosed her condition she went to a PALESTINIAN NEUROSURGEON in Ramallah who identified the problem correctly, verified it with an MRI the next day and operated the following week. The procedure lasted 11 hours, a grueling ordeal for both patient and surgeon. My friend said she was released from the hospital three days later and when she went to see her neurosurgeon later, she asked him my question. His answer: "Tell them we're human".

Jeries Kort, last year medical school

Estephan, Al Miller and I visited the SERAJ LIBRARY AT TAYBEH yesterday. We sat with the amazing young adults who volunteer at the library and talked of the children, opportunities to use drama to help them tell the story of Taybeh to the hordes of "pilgrims" who come there each week, of the need for books for young adults. We asked them what they want us to tell Americans. They were very direct:

- we just want basic rights
- we're not terrorists
- peace does not come without justice
- every time we see a soldier, a settler, we think of the U.S. not being fair
- we are not expecting anything from the U.S. government
- people come to Taybeh for religious reasons ... but they don't look around the village, see the three settlements and Israeli military base that surrounds us

Helda Zayed, 11th grade


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