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Palestinians Too Are Shocked by the Disaster

Here are three separate pieces: a grief statement from the leadership of a Palestinian village; announcement of Palestinian Arab a prayer vigil September 12, and a letter from an American (I presume) Christianin Israel about her first-hand observation of Palestinians' shock and horror.

(1st and 2nd reports forwarded by David Lippman and others)

The following message comes from the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour on the West Bank. Their unambiguous condemnation of the barbaric attack yesterday stands in stark contrast to the message the major media is putting out about Palestinian "joy" over this heinous act.

Not that the official media are "wrong." -- No doubt some Palestinians are celebrating this successful attack on what they see as the supplier of arms and money to their occupiers.

But the official media ARE wrong in not reporting the mix of opinion, in not reporting the truth of deep disagreements among Palestinians.

Some are horrified at this attack, as they have been by attacks on Israeli civilians. [After the Beit Sahour report, see also the report from East Jerusalem.]

From: Beit Sahour Municipality

In the name of Beit Sahour Municipality and in the name of each and every citizen of the Shepherds field Beit Sahour; we convey our deepest condolences to the entire American people for the horrific loss of innocent lives as a result of the horrible acts of terror. In particular, we share the grievances of all the families of the victims.

We pray to God to please give these families the patience and the strength.

As Palestinians who suffer daily form acts of Israeli aggression against our innocent people, we cannot find the words to express how shocked we were to see the horrific scenes on TV. We condemn such acts and we do not accept such horrific acts in the 3rd millennium where peace, prosperity, and freedom should cover the whole world.

We reiterate our deepest condemnation of this horrible act on these innocent humans. No matter how can we express our sorrow, we can't find enough words to say how sorry we are.

Please let us work together to stop these acts of terrorism all over the world. Let us work hand in hand for establishing a safer world to live in.

p.s. Please pass on this message to all our friends; we want them to know that each person in Beit Sahour shares this message with us.

<<<<<<< The sons and daughters of Jerusalem are holding a candle vigil in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem at 4:30pm today to express their solidarity with the American People after a momentous terrorist attack struck major centers in New York City and Washington DC.

<<<< Place: In front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem

<<<< Time: 4:30pm today 12 September

<<<< For more information, please contact Mr. Isa Qassisiya at 052-556-810>>.

Just to be clear, The Consulate is in East Jerusalem and "Qassisya" is an Arab name.


3rd report:

by Rev. Sandra Olewine, the United Methodist Liaison in Jerusalem.

Dear Friends,

I've had numerous emails from people asking me to help interpret the scenes they have watched of Palestinians 'celebrating' after the event. Yes, there were some gatherings of people, particularly in Nablus, who were shown in the very early hours of the horrible attacks in the US on the street, dancing and cheering, and passing out chocolate. But, these expressions were few and certainly did not represent the feelings or mood of the general population. The deep shock and horror of the Palestinian people, the real sorrow for all the dead and wounded, was, and continues to be, unseen by the world, particularly in the USA. It is the story unheard.

Because those few scenes were disturbing, the easy response is to cast judgment on the participants, naming those 'celebrating' as inhuman, despots, or despicable. The more difficult response, though, particularly in the midst of grief, is to ask the questions about what might drive people, men, women and children, to such actions. One might remember that the people who were seen 'celebrating' are a people who for almost a year have been under a brutal siege, who due to the siege have been unable to feed their families and hover on the brink of poverty and despair, who have watched their children and their parents killed by bullets, tank shells and guided missiles, most of which are supplied to the Israeli Occupation Army by the USA. One might remember such things as one watches those images. Attempting to understand motivations doesn't discount our feelings of anguish at such scenes, but does allow us to keep humanity a bit more in tack in a time of such utter brokenness.

But, more importantly to me is what has mostly gone unseen by the American public. I have to ask why these scenes of a few Palestinians been shown again and again and again, as if they capture the 'truth' of Palestine. How few cameras have caught the spontaneous sorrow, despair, tears and heartache of the vast majority of the Palestinian people. As the news unfolded here on Tuesday afternoon about the extent of the attacks, people gathered, as people did everywhere, in front of television screens to learn as much as possible. My phone rang and rang as Palestinians from around the West Bank called to express their horror and their condolences.

Yesterday following a prayer service held at St. George's Anglican Cathedral, I talked briefly to the US Consul General in Jerusalem. We talked about the scenes from here which were most prevalent on the TV. He told me that his office had received a stack of faxes of condolences from Palestinians and Palestinian Organizations 'this high' (indicating a stack of about 12 inches). He asked his staff to fax a copy of every last one of them to CNN to give a different visual image from Palestine.

When we left the cathedral after the service, we drove by the American Consulate in East Jerusalem. Gathered there were about 30 Palestinian Muslim schoolgirls with their teachers. Looking grief-stricken, they held their bouquets of dark flowers and stood behind their row of candles. Silently, they kept vigil outside our Consulate. But no cameras captured their quiet sorrow.

When I got home, my neighbor explained that her son who is in 8th grade came home in the afternoon and talked to her about the students reactions at school. He told her that everyone was talking about what had happened. He said that many were asking "how could someone do that?" "Is someone human who can carry out such acts?" He went on to tell her that many of the girls were crying. Friends, then, began stopping by my home. Palestinian Christian and Muslim came together, visiting me to express their sorrow and to ask what they could do. Again, the phone rang incessantly with Palestinians asking if everyone I knew was okay and asking if they could do anything to help.

As we talked many went on to tell of stories of their loved ones who are in the States - relatives they were worried about having been injured or killed or who had been subject to harassment in the last couple of days. Others talked of having received emails from people who had been supporters of their work who wrote saying "I can never again support the Palestinian people," as if somehow Palestinians everywhere were suddenly responsible for the attacks in the States. The remarkable thing to me, though, was that despite such messages, these same people still wrote letters of condolences, made phone calls to friends, and asked what they could do to help. Despite the world, and particularly the American world, not seeing them or seeing them only as 'terrorists', Palestinians continued to express their common humanity with people everywhere as they shared in the heartache and dismay.

Trusting in God's everlasting presence,


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