21 November, 2012, 8:25 p.m., Bethlehem, Palestine
Dear Graduates and Friends of Bethlehem University,
On behalf of the students, faculty, staff, and graduates of Bethlehem University, thank you for the outpouring of support and prayers in response to my email of Friday, 16 November 2012 about the impact of the Gaza violence on Bethlehem University. Your prayers and kind messages of support for the students and faculty at Bethlehem University, and especially your concern for our 435 former students and graduates in Gaza, is always most appreciated, and even more so in these times of violence and unrest.
Here in Bethlehem, unfortunately we were not able to have classes today, Wednesday, 21 November 2012, due to concerns for the safety and well-being of our students and faculty following the Israeli army invasion into Bethlehem on Tuesday, 20 November 2012, and their firing of tear gas into the streets of the town at civilians, mostly children. We plan, however, to re-open for classes tomorrow, Thursday, 22 November 2012.
It is also most unfortunate that the violence, death, and despair in Gaza continues. We have been able to contact some of the 435 former students and graduates of Bethlehem University in Gaza. Many are working in leadership positions with the United Nations and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNWRA). A number are teachers and administrators in schools throughout Gaza. Some are working for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and other NGOs in providing humanitarian assistance to others. A number of our graduates in Gaza are social workers, nurses, mid-wives, occupational and physical therapists engaged in helping many victims of the violence.
Mr. Mohammed Azaiza is a 2008 graduate of Bethlehem University. When we spoke with him in Gaza by telephone on Monday, he was preparing for the funeral of the brother of his sister-in-law and two of his cousins who were killed by the Israeli bombing. Mohammed told us of his concern for his two young sons, Yosef and Kareem, who are living in a state of terror.
Ms. Eman Shoblak, a 1995 graduate of Bethlehem University, told us about the difficulties, uncertainties, and fear she is facing in Gaza for the well-being of her four sons. Thanks be to God, her family and relatives have been physically safe thus far. However, in her neighborhood, a family of 10 people were killed in an Israeli attack four days ago.
As I write this update, I realize that our friends in the United States are preparing to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, and Christians around the world are soon coming upon the Holy season of Advent in preparation for the great feast of Christmas. During these most significant times, we ask you join us in praying and working in hope for a quick end to the violence. The time is long overdue for a just and peaceful resolution of the issues of the Occupation, blockades, travel restrictions, home demolitions, expanding settlements, and targeted assassinations that continue to give rise to violence in this Holy Land.
The positive influence of our more than 14,000 graduates in Palestine is real and is powerful. As one of our 2004 graduates, Mr. Ahmad Al’azzeh, wrote to me on Friday:
“A better tomorrow will not come unless we have a truthful faith in ourselves and how many good things we could do. Violence generates more violence; respecting human beings as the most valuable of God’s creation is the way for a better future… Palestine was and will stay the place for peace, with Bethlehem being the City of the Prince of Peace. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is our way for a better tomorrow.”
Together with your support and their efforts, we know that truth and justice will prevail. Through the terror, the grief, and the injustice, we know that God’s peace will come to us. If you are able, we welcome your financial support so that Bethlehem University can support our graduates in Gaza, continue to be a source of strength to them, assisting them with further training in nursing, occupational therapy, etc, and, where possible, to provide them with equipment and access to expertise so that they in turn can better serve others. In short, your support of Bethlehem University helps us to continue being a beacon of hope and an oasis of peace for all in the Holy Land.
Blessings to you and your loved ones,
Brother Jack Curran, FSC, PhD
Vice President for Development
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Rue des Freres
Bethlehem – Palestine
‘Inspiring Innovation and Creating the Future’