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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

We who Are Wide Awake are compelled by the "fierce urgency of Now" [Rev MLK, Jr.] to raise awareness and promote the human dialogue about many of the crucial issues of our day: the state of our Union and in protection of democracy, what life is like under military occupation in Palestine, the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land, and spirituality-from a Theologically Liberated Christian Anarchist POV.

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FACTS ABOUT THE WALL from friends in Bethlehem

Read the truth about the Wall and what is happening today in the Holy City of Bethlehem.

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"We're on a mission from God."
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"Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all...and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave...a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."
George Washington's Farewell Address - 1796

"My aim is to agitate & disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast."
Unamuno


"Imagine All the People Sharing All the World."
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"If enough Christians followed the gospel, they could bring any state to its knees." 
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"You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down."
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"If I can't dance, it's not my revolution."
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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence

 

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Open Bethlehem
The offices of Open Bethlehem lie inside the tallest building of Bethlehem University, at the highest point in the city. The view from the roof terrace is spectacular, both in the good and the bad sense of the word. Beit Jala looks pretty, basking on its hill to the west. But to the north, the Israeli Segregation Wall can be seen cutting through the city by the Aida Refugee Camp. And right in the centre of the main Jerusalem-Hebron road is the fortress of Rachel's Tomb, draped with netting and surrounded by military towers. Bethlehem is a compact and hilly town, and each of the hills has its own Israeli settlement. The very beauty of the town has led to it feeling far more claustrophobic and enclosed than most other Palestinian cities. Soon, of course, Bethlehem will be entirely enclosed. When the Wall is completed in November, the city will become a prison town. The message of Open Bethlehem, a new city project designed to promote Bethlehem worldwide, is that the imprisonment of Bethlehem is not only a nightmare for its citizens, but a loss to the entire world. Bethlehem is not only a world heritage treasure; it is also a living city: a reminder of an open and diverse Middle East.

The international scope of Open Bethlehem is underlined by the simultaneous launch of the project in the UK and the United States. Leila Sansour, the Chief Executive, explains the focus of the campaign: "The Wall is a man-made disaster, and we intend to counter it with a positive advocacy campaign." The detailed programme focuses on regeneration through investment and tourism, but the campaign is rooted in a clear universal message: that Bethlehem embodies the ideal of an open city. "We have to remind the world of the values that it owes to Bethlehem. Through this, we can use Bethlehem as a window through which the world sees the whole of Palestine."

The offices of Open Bethlehem are buzzing with activity. There are minute-by-minute updates with the offices in London and Washington as the launch date draws near. The twin launches incorporate briefings to business leaders, lawmakers and journalists in a series of high-profile events, culminating in the launch of the Bethlehem Passport (see box, below). A key focus is the launch of a new Palestinian travel product at the World Travel Market, called Open Bethlehem tours, alongside the re-launch of the new guidebook from the Alternative Tourism Group, "Palestine and the Palestinians." Carol Dabdoub, the Director of Open Bethlehem in Palestine, takes a series of urgent calls from Open Bethlehem's tourist advisor in the UK, who is bringing broadcasters and travel writers to Bethlehem. The fine details of the itinerary are discussed, as well as the image they hope to project of Bethlehem as a town with energy and ideas.


Bethlehem has seen tourism plunge by ninety per cent over the past five years. This year has brought a slight increase, but too many tourists are bussed in and out of the city for a short visit to the Church of the Nativity. Open Bethlehem tours are designed to encourage extended stays in the city. The tours include both the physical heritage sites, the churches and the archaeological sites, but also the cultural heritage and the Bethlehem of today. The city still has its roots in a traditional Canaanite way of life. Local dishes such a frikeh are thousands of years old, dating from the time of the first cultivation of wild wheat. Bethlehem retains a real sense of the seasons: the year is marked by the arrival of almonds, apricots, figs, olives and citrus fruits, each at their proper time. The sense of being close to Biblical times is reflected in the urban space, where people live on top of each other and all take part in the communal life through harvests and feasts, today sharing Ramadan and Christmas. The closeness to the surrounding desert affects the light and temperature, creating a profound sense of peace just beyond the city where first monastic life appeared and where spectacular monasteries still greet the site of biblical sunsets. In Bethlehem you can still hear mass celebrated in the language of Christ on Sunday morning and have a business lunch in the afternoon. Bethlehem is a place of many contrasts. This is what the Open Bethlehem tours want to show the world.


As Dabdoub takes another call, Sansour leaves to greet a new visitor to the Open Bethlehem offices at the University, H.E. Msgr. Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Delegate to Palestine. Sansour decides to take him up to the University's roof terrace to brief him on the project. Sambi reminds her of the Christian message of Bethlehem: a message of love and rebirth. He is concerned that this message will be lost if, as a result of the Wall, Bethlehemites become submerged in negativity and divisions. Leila recasts his thoughts in the terms of Open Bethlehem, "That's true. We might be surrounded by a wall, but we don't need to live in its shadow. There are so many examples of a new energy emerging from the city, the new guidebook being a good example. This is still an open city, of open-minded, creative people."
These virtues are embodied by the board members of Open Bethlehem. Members are drawn from a wide range of successful Bethlehem institutions including the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation, the Bethlehem Peace Centre, and the Medical Relief Committee, as well as the University itself. There are also figures from the business world, such as the director of Ilam Tam, the Palestinian media and PR company, reflecting Open Bethlehem's brief to encourage investment. Open Bethlehem is putting a special emphasis on international conferences and festivals -- events that provide a perfect fit with the city's tourist facilities and its beautiful venues. The board also includes communicators, including the media consultant for the Central Electoral Committee, and an adviser to the Negotiations Support Unit.

Sansour and Dabdoub both have media backgrounds. Sansour is a film director, while Dabdoub was a popular radio and television host and the former Head of Media at the International Centre of Bethlehem.
Sansour takes up the theme of communication by way of a reflection on the peculiarly dry sense of humour of the Palestinians. "If you live in Bethlehem, you see the world in all its faces. People come in a religious fervour, they come in armies or as missionaries, everyone is full of plans for our future or for the future of the world, and our jokes reflect this. In the end, we have seen and heard it all." But she ends with a stark warning: "If Bethlehem is to have a future, then we cannot continue to sit passively waiting for the world to come to us. We need to take charge of the message we send out: that Bethlehem is surrounded by a Wall but Bethlehem can transcend the Wall. We are an open city and if citizens of the world choose to treat us this way by keeping on coming, by investing in this place and by bringing bold creative projects to Bethlehem, our city will live on. We intend to send this message widely in November, announcing the launch of the Bethlehem Passport – an honorary citizenship promised to all those who bring their energy to share our journey."

Bethlehem University
Recognising its part in the social landscape of the district, Bethlehem University has placed particular emphasis on its relationship with Bethlehem communities. In recent months the university took yet another step in this direction by supporting the Open Bethlehem project and hosting their offices at the Millennium Building.

Article photos by Palestine Image Bank

The Bethlehem Passport


Paris has the Legion d'Honneur, Britain has its Knighthoods, and the US has the Congressional Medal of Honour. With the creation of the Bethlehem Passport, Bethlehem has its own high honour to recognise those who make an important contribution to the city. The passport has been deliberately crafted as a beautiful object, with leather covers and deep watermarked pages, and a design that features both the star of Bethlehem and the figure of St George – Al-Khadir – the patron saint of Bethlehem and a figure sacred to Bethlehem's Muslims and Christians alike. There are several routes to winning a passport, whether as a benefactor prepared to underwrite a specific initiative or an entrepreneur bringing wealth-creating opportunities to the city. The passport is also open to people of imagination and experience who can bring major events to a city that lives through its visitors: imagine an international conference, a festival of sacred music, even a marathon across the mountains of Bethlehem's wilderness. But the passport will also be offered to anyone willing to make an extended stay in the city – sharing our journey as we work to overcome the Wall.
Dabdoub explains that the passport represents a strategic initiative to regenerate the city, build goodwill and, more importantly, an emotional investment with Bethlehem. "The passport is for friends of Bethlehem worldwide, who will stand by us for as long as the Wall stands. We should not under-estimate what the passport means for the Palestinian Diaspora abroad, some of whom are in the third or fourth generation and know Bethlehem only as a memory of their grandparents or from an old photograph in an album. The passport is a way for them to reconnect with their watan, their homeland."

 

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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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