As many of you know, the Israeli authorities started to build a wall around the Palestinian cities and villages a few years ago. In 2003, the Hope Flowers School received a demolition order for the school cafeteria, because the cafeteria is located 120 meters away from the proposed route of the wall.
Now the Israeli authorities have started to build the last segment of the wall near the school. Bulldozers and stone crushing machines are working daily to crush thousands of years of beautiful rocks at the front of the school in preparation for either laying the 8 meters high cement wall segments or to build a fence.
The proposed route of the barrier will isolate the Hope Flowers School and will not allow Israelis to come to visit the school. The school has been well known for many years as a home for peace education in the Middle East. Our bridge-building programs have reached out to thousands of Palestinians and Israelis.
We encourage peace and coexistence based on our belief that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict cannot be solved in a violent way. With our joint programs we create an opportunity for dialogue and understanding. The mutual meetings are very helpful to minimize fear and prevent stereotyping. They form a tool for both Palestinians and Israelis to find their common humanity.
The problem is that, when the wall (barrier) is built, Israelis and Palestinians will not be able to meet each other anymore. The Hope Flowers School will not be accessible to Israelis. This means more fear and more stereotyping of ‘the other’, which would end any chance for creating peace and dialogue. The wall is not only physical: it will be a barrier in the minds and hearts of future Palestinian and Israeli generations, preventing them from living together. The wall will not bring peace. It may bring a cease-fire, but a cease-fire is never peace. (The current cease-fire in late 2006 applies to Gaza only).
To all our friends, your help is needed now!
The Israelis will not stop building the wall for sure! But let’s all together ask them to create a gate in the wall near the school to allow Israelis to reach the Hope Flowers School. This gate will be a Gate for Hope to keep hope alive and to keep Hope Flowering for the next generation.
How to help?
Please apply pressure to the contacts below by letter, fax, e-mail or phone. Ask them to do whatever they can to pressure the Israelis to overturn the demolition order of the cafeteria and to create a gate in the wall to allow Israelis to reach the school. Emphasize the unique operating principles and ethos of the Hope Flowers School – it is the only school in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza areas focusing on peace and democracy education, teaching our students to look for non-violent solutions to the ongoing situation.
Here is is an example of a letter that you can re-work (if you wish), sign and send to one of the contacts below.
Click here to download (MSWord document). Please write pleasant and constructive letters and e-mails!
a) Commander, Israeli Civil Administration
(Sub Committee for Supervision of Building Activity in Beth El),
Fax: (Israel) +972-2-997-7326
b) Mr. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel
Fax: (Israel) +972-2-566-4838 or +972-2-267-5475
UK residents please write to:
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH, UK
www.fco.gov.uk (click ‘Feedback’)
c) The Israeli Embassy / Consulate in your home country.
d) Dr Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State
Address: US Department of State, 2210 C Street N.W, Washington D.C 20520, USA.
Tel: (USA) 202 647 5291 (Dr. Rice’s office) or 202 647 4000 (State Dept. main number)
By sending your letter to one or more of the above officials, you are helping us to keep hope alive.
If you can draw attention to this situation in your local and wider communities, through various methods, therefore resulting in greater awareness of our situation, it would further help our cause.
For further information specifically relating to this issue, please contact us at the school.
Co-director, Hope Flowers School
Some background information
To find Hope Flowers on this map: follow the red main road SW from Bethlehem to Al Khader – this used to be the old Jerusalem-Hebron main road, but now it has been blocked off. Hope Flowers is below Al Khader in the corner, just where the wall turns, opposite the new Israeli settlement at Efrata.
Most of you may well know that the school is at Al Khader, in the part of the West Bank still designated as Area C, where there is exclusive Israeli control and administration of most aspects of organized life. The categories of Areas A, B and C, which came into existence with the Oslo Accords, resulted in Areas A being designated as areas under full Palestinian control whilst Areas B came under joint Israeli and Palestinian control. Because the school area has been traditionally Palestinian for generations, and because it is within 2 kilometers of portions of Area B and Area A, it had seemed likely that this area would be reclassified as an Area A. However, as a result of the latest Intifada, and other factors, this has not happened, and we remain fully under the control of the Israeli military and civil authorities.
This directly affects the school buildings in the following way. Although all of the school buildings have Palestinian building permits, the permits are not recognized by the Israeli authorities. As we are in an Area C, we need to be in possession of an Israeli building permit.
In 1999, when we were first issued with a demolition notification, the Hope Flowers School was in the same predicament. After submitting reports, attending meetings of the Civil Administration (the Israeli body that administers the Occupied Palestinian Territories), attending the hearing of our case in an Israeli military court, and continuous international pressure, the order to demolish was rescinded. We applied in 1999 for an Israeli building permit and were successful in our application. However, the fee that the Israeli Authorities were charging for the issue and validation of the permit was deliberately beyond the financial capabilities of the school, hence we were unable to proceed and obtain the permit.