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Keeping Hope Alive – Public Talk 15 February 2018



From: Cenacle

By Anne Powell rc

On Thursday 15 February 2018, Mary J Kay and I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing the talk given by Brother Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, Palestine. Peter is a Kiwi de la Salle brother living in the community there since 2009.

As you’d appreciate from his letters already posted on our Cenacle website, his presentation was truly inspiring and moving. Peter’s power point was a mix of interviews with some of the students and graduates from the university, and also comments by a leading Palestinian Christian woman. Through it all, was the stark presence of The Separation Wall.

Some of Peter’s main points:
• Over 5 million Palestinians are classified as refugees by the UN.
• Bethlehem University has over 3,000 students. Currently, 75% of the students are women. Young men often have to leave high school to find work
• Severe restriction of movement for students and all Palestinians – this is through The Separation Wall, check points, concrete road blocks, random ditches, military only zones. This hinders students from attending classes, people from visiting family and friends, workers from getting to and from their jobs.
• Students spoke of a genuine sense of hope in the midst of chaos. “I became a living conscience” a young woman said.
• The university truly welcomes pilgrims and visitors as these allow the students to experience some sense of “another world beyond Bethlehem”.

Two young students spoke poignantly of never having seen the sea. This is owing to restrictions of movement placed on them by Israel. “In the midst of the unpredictability and uncertainty around them”, said Peter, “we want to be an oasis of peace for these young people and provide them with a place where they can be safe, cared for and thrive academically.”

Hind Khoury, a Palestinian Christian woman who is Secretary General of Kairos Palestine, spoke of the impact of President Trump’s statement on 6 December 2017 when he declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the USA would be moving its embassy there. “His statement is the demise of international law”. She said that for Palestinians, “Jerusalem is our identity and heritage as we try to live our faith in Palestine.” Such moves as Trump’s declaration, herald the disappearance of Palestine, she said.

Ending his presentation, Peter put this question to us all:

What are we going to do in 2018 to help peace and justice come to Bethlehem University and Palestine?

Among possible responses and action, Peter suggested:
1. Stand in solidarity with Bethlehem University and all who live in Palestine.
2. Pray for us and for all who live in the Holy Land.
3. Support us with a gift.

Peter’s deep faith and active commitment shone through his talk. He said “I have never been afraid in Palestine … I have hope that one day peace with justice will come … Look at East and West Germany, South Africa, Northern Ireland”. He is a true man of God who has pitched his tent among the people of Palestine.

If you Google Brother Peter Bray, you will be able to listen to several of his talks in recent years, including one conversation with Pope Francis on education and Bethlehem University.







Anne Powell rc and Peter Bray fsc

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine