Saturday, August 27, 2005
Letter from BeitSahourPlayer
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 3:53 PM
Hi to all of you out there

I was reading the site lately and I have noticed that there is some people do not like the word ghetto that we are using

I want to tell you may friends if using the word ghetto will get the attention of the people to what is happing in Palestine I will used

You can call it a ghetto or prison or what aver you want …..But no one can control what we can writ

The word ghetto is not for the use of Israelis only

And another thing, from a person how is living in Bethlehem area

We are living in ghettos and soon enough we will be living in conditions that are worse than Warsaw.

Army invades any time they want kill anyone they like do not allow us out make us dance and play music for them in the checkpoints so tell me what is that different than Warsaw the only difference that I can find is the death chambers.

I am sorry for what happened to the Jewish people in Warsaw but no one of you own the word ghetto.

BeitSahourplayer – Bethlehem ghetto.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
More about "Ghetto"
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 3:01 PM
Another email sent to us pointed out an article in the Guardian from 2003, in which British MPs compare Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto.

MPs compare Gaza to Warsaw ghetto,2763,980744,00.html

Labour MP Ms King, who is Jewish, said Gaza was “the same in nature” as the
infamous Polish ghetto. “No government should be behaving like that - least of
all a Jewish government,” the Bethnal Green and Bow MP said.


Referring to Warsaw, scene of the historic uprising by its Jewish
inhabitants, Ms King said: “It is the same in nature but not extent.”

Those silly Brits. I mean, colour? Where do you get a "u"?

I might as well mention that we are a decentralized collective of posters and not all material necessarily represents everyone's opinion, blah, blah, blah... I, for instance, disagree with the notion that Palestine = Warsaw or whatever. But it's all part of the discussion.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
The Bethlehem Ghetto
posted by: username at 1:57 PM
We got the following email and I figured, since we haven't had much to say lately, I might as well post it and talk a bit about it. It comes from Paul O., or Paulo, or maybe that is just an email username, but I assure you the person is probably in some way related to the following sequence of letters: p, a, u, l and o. Probably.

Bethelem is not a ghetto.
There is no possible comparison between what did happen in Warsaw Ghetto and what does or did happen in bethelem.
What are the consequences of such bad use of the words ? They lost meaning.
Today no one realizes what what the warsaw guettho really was.
Words lost meaning.., the past does get erased and mankind will be condemened to repeat the past over and over since as Santayana said ,

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.".

The palestinians and the Israelis might well became the victims of such lack of memory.

If people really realized what war is like , if people realize the horrors of the gettho , maybe they would make peace instead of waging war.

Those who learn nothing from history are condemned to repeat it.

So anyway, yeah, the Bethlehem Ghetto. I still remember when a group of us were getting this project up and running, sitting around our Tupac-loving friend's living room debating all sorts of endless details that were really quite boring: should we link to this site, we already have this site, what categories of links should we have, how many posts should we put on the main page... really quite meaningless, although so far we have not had any real problems running the site, so maybe the discussions paid off.

Anyway, I ramble on about this because we also had a bit of a discussion on using the word "ghetto" in our title. It was actually the Palestinians among us who were most reluctant to use the word, as none of us had any desire to co-opt the events of the Holocaust in portraying the long history of Palestinian dispossession. For most of us, however, the concerns were irrelevant.

Perhaps for Israelis the word "ghetto" will always be reserved for Warsaw, but in a modern, Western context, the word "ghetto" is most closely related to hip-hop culture in the U.S., which - like Palestinians - is tied to impoverished ethnic groups that are the target of much prejudice and often relegated to disintegrating conditions in urban ghettos.

They're kept out of the suburbs in the U.S. - out of sight and out of mind - and it is precisely this imprisonment in obscurity that we intend to evoke when we use the term Bethlehem Ghetto. The Wall is being completed around Bethlehem now. Work has picked up considerably in the past few months. Jerusalem is becoming harder to reach for Palestinians whose income is based on work there. Amid the Gaza redeployment frenzy, communities like Bethlehem all across the West Bank are being forgotten about, left to rot and bang their heads against an imprisoning Wall, isolated into little ghettos - out of sight and out of mind.
Is Deheishe a Graveyard?
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 1:41 PM
Back with another guest post, this time about Deheishe refugee camp in Bethlehem. If you've got something to contribute, email us at and we just may put it up, if we've got space, because as you can see we've had so many posts lately not everything can fit. Aren't I funny That green "?" is just a gratuitous use of Blogger's new image upload feature. Looks like it works. Excellent.

Is Deheishe a Graveyard?
By Howard Taylor for the Middle East Delegation
July 31, 2005

"I was born here and I hope I will not die here", said a 40 year old resident of Deheishe, a refugee camp just outside Bethlehem. To say refugee camp might lead you to think of temporary dwellings and a cluster of UN tents. This is not the picture of Deheishe. Some cemeteries stack corpses on top of corpses as years go by and there isn't enough land to lay them side-by-side. In Deheishe, the living are stacked up one on top of the other, in cement houses piled on top of the original one story room. As families grow their apartments' stack gets taller.

Deheishe was established in 1948 as temporary housing for 3,000 refugees, each family allotted one 12 by 12 foot concrete room. Fifty-seven years later Deheishe is a warren of three and four story apartments housing about 12,000 people, 62% of whom are children. The apartments and infrastructure are incomplete, always in varying stages of building or disrepair, held together with whatever materials that can be salvaged.

Who are the refugees?

The refugees of Deheishe are displaced people, most of who were forced from their homes near West Jerusalem in 1948. In many ways, they have maintained their village identity in the camp all these years. But, the camp has never been a permanent home for them, even as the decades have passed and they remain. Many people here have ownership papers for homes and land in the villages they were forced to leave. The Israeli courts are unable or unwilling to process their claims. Two-thirds of the adults in the camp have personally experienced jail and since whole families are refused work when one member has been jailed, there is little hope for work.

Still they remain hopeful. As one man said, "All we need is a little justice - that's all."

In the midst of all of this, people here try to carry on a normal life for their families as best they can. One evening, we sat drinking tea with a family under the grape arbors that shade their porch. Viewed from outside the camp is crowded and trash is left in the streets, but inside the apartments are clean and well kept. There is a pride of place, even if this can't truly be considered their home. People here are hospitable and very happy to share what little they have.

On Friday evening, we walked over to the brand new Al Feneiq community center. The place was packed with people of all ages - a wedding in the banquet hall, children on the playground, teenagers laughing and talking; adults sharing stories, hopes and dreams. The large garden is a place for everyone to gather and children to play on grass for perhaps the first time. A few years ago when the Israeli military evacuated some land adjacent to the camp, the residents of Deheishe had hoped to expand the area of the camp to relieve some of the overcrowding. But when only a small area of the land was allotted for the camp, residents decided to use it to benefit everyone in the camp.

As wonderful as it is, the center can't erase the difficulties of living in this concrete graveyard; this patch of grass doesn't relieve the overcrowded conditions or the lack of work. It cannot bring back relatives from prison, or replace the homes and lands lost. But the center is a source of pride and a ray of hope in an otherwise dark existence. The community life here is what makes Deheishe a place to live, and not simply to survive. But how long must the people of Deheishe live in a graveyard?
Monday, August 08, 2005
Home Demolitions in Al Khader
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 4:01 PM
The following piece was written by Alyssa, an American currently staying in Beit Sahour. Al Khader is a village on the southern side of Bethlehem.

Yesterday, 27 July 2005, I witnessed for the first time the horror and tragedy of not one, but two house demolitions. Early yesterday morning I was informed by some colleagues that two homes in the village of Al Khader were going to be demolished shortly. We quickly organized a group and left the office to stand in peaceful protest and solidarity with the families of these homes.

When we arrived at the "protest" there were already a group of locals gathered and we added to the mix 3 Americans and 5 Palestinians. Collectively, our group began the descent towards the Israeli jeeps that were ready to confront us. Led by the Palestinian flag, we marched directly up to the Israeli soldiers and one of our group 'leaders' informed them that this was a peaceful protest and all that we wanted was to stand with the families while their homes were being demolished. Unfortunately we were met with soldiers that were not concerned with acting non-violently and they immediatley began physically pushing the men on our 'front line' back. This prevention of our ability to move was not only infuriariting but illegal as well. The
soldiers also forcefully tried to take the Palestinian flag out of the hands of one of the men, telling us some non-sense about being able to stand there, but not being able to hold the flag if we were going to remain in the area. When they realized the flag was not going to be surrenderd, we began again trying to work our way closer to the site through rational and peaceful discussion. As our 'leaders' continued speaking, the steady sound of voices was soon sliced and shattered with a noise that completely broke my heart.

I heard first the screeching of the demolition crane followed by the torturous squeaking of the bulldozer - and in front of my very eyes I watched as a home was completely destroyed. As my eyes took in the evil sight, my ears went deaf and my head began to spin. It was as if the entire world had stopped moving and I was the only one who existed in that moment, just me and that crane, that horrible, ugly, monstrous crane. In this same moment I realized that I could no longer hold it together. I fell to my knees and sobbed. My heart was so full of grief and my head was so full of confusion. How could any human possibly do this to another? How can the men, operating those vehicles sleep at night? How did such evil ever become okay in this world and where were all of the people who did not think that this was in fact okay? Even though I was surrounded by many people, I felt so alone. My heart was in painful agony for the families, the Palestinian people and humanity in general. I did not think that my tears would ever run dry.

As I looked up through my blurred vision, I saw that most of the Palestinian men had gathered in a line, standing face to face with the IDF. As the demolition continued, I watched as these men grabbed the hands of those next to them, intertwined their fingers and raised their arms symbolizing to the family that this tragedy was not going unnoticed. Of course the realization of how many millions of people would live their lives completely oblivious to these disgusting acts of terrorism and humiliation made my tears flow even more.

After both homes were demolished, the soldiers continued to refuse entry to the sites. However, I played my American card and told them that I was going up and that it was probably not wise to stop me. As I walked towards the rubble of the homes my heart was pounding. I turned a corner and saw the first heap. Stone, steel, wood, all kinds of material whose purposes were now indecipherable. It was hard to tell that this had actually been a home. Three children were sitting on top
of the rubble, not saying a thing, just looking. I couldn't handle it, I turned to leave. As I was turning to escape the horror before me, I saw out of the corner of my eye, under a tree with his face in his hands, the owner of the home. He must have been around 70 years old. He was weeping.

Next to this man was a pile of chairs and table, some tapestries, etc. Asking my colleague about this pile he replied "It's what they were able to salvage in an hour. That's how quick the notice is. The IDF shows up with the caterpillar and crane and tells them they have one hour. After that, if they aren't out of the home, the IDF claims that they cannot be held accountable." As a friend so accurately said after the event, "The house demolition was more then an act of state sponsored terrorism by the State of Israel. The demolition of these people's home was a direct action taken by the Israeli government to continue to handicap, humiliate, weaken and ultimately destroy the fabric of Palestinians livelihood and existence in Palestine. When one does not have a home, what are they to do?" These families, not only lost their homes, but they lost everything they could not haul out of the house in an hour....including their sense of security and hope.

Thanks for contributing Alyssa and sorry for the delay in posting this! We are slow these days. It's summer in Palestine, give us a break.