[Bethlehem 18 July, 2007] For the past two days this committed Christian of The Beatitudes has been surrounded by and listening to Palestinian Muslims who live in the Dheisheh refugee camp; a five minute taxi ride from the Church of The Nativity in The Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory.
Over half of the 11,000 resident refugees are children under 18 enduring on less than one square kilometer of the Holy Land. On the winding narrow alleys with no names I spied a few teenage Muslim girls dressed as any typical American teenager would and most all of the young people I spoke with told me they were not into religion; but have been formed by the religious ethics taught to them.
On my first day in the 100% Muslim refugee camp, my 18 year old guide through the camp was Mohammad, a member of R.R.; Refugee Rappers who stated, “When I was a child I had a dream that I would take my people; my country and fly away to another planet and another life. My homeland is Zakariyya and Telasafi [west of Hebron] and my grandfather told me that the issue is in my hand; it’s my responsibility to get out of the desert. Balfour and King Hussein, they left my people in the desert and nobody can help us to get out, except ourselves."
Mohammad raps, “Seems to people it’s hard to be what you want to be. But if I want to speak about my life I have four words; Blood, Night, Land and Hope. This means Philistine [Palestine]. Our word to all people we are here to be or not to be; Philistine [Palestine]. ”
He explained to me the imagery of the four words that represent the colors of the Palestinian flag; red, black, green and white.
On Wednesday my guide was fifteen year old Adam who volunteers his time at the IBDAA [Arabic for “to create something out of nothing”] Cultural Center http://www.ibdaa194.org which is a grassroots organization providing social, educational and cultural programs for children, youth and women in the nearly 60 year old refugee camp.
Soft spoken and perpetually smiling Adam informed this reporter, “I was in America in November 2005 with the IBDAA dance troop. We were there for forty days and performed from California to New Hampshire. Before I went I thought all Americans were terrorists; that they were all like their government. But then I talked with Americans who disagreed with their government and learned the people of America are very different from their government.”