Annual Earthstewards Gathering 2005

Harry Troelstra from the Netherlands, one of the key organizers for the PeaceTrees/Gathering in Bethlehem has been keeping a diary since his arrival in Bethlehem. Here are those entries on a daily basis.

Thank you, Harry, for bringing this event home to so many of us who dearly wish we could be there physically, but for many reasons are not able to attend. You know our hearts and prayers are with you all.

Peace Trees Project, El Khader, June 12th, 2005

Dear Friend,

Nightlife at the airport in Amsterdam is special. An endless row of, mostly young, people come in to get onto a flight to the Mediterranean area. All of them dressed as if they are already at the beach at which they hope to arrive in maybe six hours from now.

Only those who fly with one of the charter airlines can check in. All others still have to wait. And for those the only real option is find a place on the ground. The available chairs are no good for anyone who wants to get some sleep: there is just no way you could lay down on more then one chair at the time.

Oh well, even a long night like this comes to an end. And then the two flights: the first to Vienna, the second to Tel, Aviv. As always, there is nothing to tell about the flights: it is nothing but sitting back and be bored.

Getting to Tel Aviv brought back memories of lengthy interrogations. But it was nothing like that this time. I could walk through just like that: no more then the question what brought me to Israel twice.

I was supposed to meet a friend, Ursel, from Germany that arrived an hour earlier. But she wasn't there and after waiting for an hour and a half I decided to travel further on my own. There is a great minibus service from the airport to Jerusalem. And they drop you off where ever you want to go: even if your destination is the military checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And the price is only about 10,-.

Then the short walk through the checkpoint (they never ask any questions there!) and the surprise because a new element has been installed there: behind the checkpoint, about two hundred metres into Palestinian area, there is a brand new wall. As everywhere this wall is nine metres high, made of solid concrete and very, very ugly.

And then the last bit of the trip: a last short ride in a taxi to get to the school. A few things around the school seem new, and people are still working to improve things even more. And there is Ibrahim: looking as if he is still enjoying live tremendously. As always he is busy doing twenty things at the same time. Later that evening I learned he is going to be a father again; more news on that in the forthcoming days.

A few hours after my arrival, Ursel finally arrived. It happened to be her turn to be interrogated upon arrival in the country. They questioned her for over an hour and a half. The reason for still is a mysterie: when Ursel asked what it was they were looking for they said that that was classified information.

Already quite a group of people is staying at the school. Menno, the volunteer, has friends visiting him. They invited us to have dinner with them. We had a great meal that brought back memories about the time I was still a student.

Harry (and others here) 

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