Letter to readers of Silenced Voices

Thank you for reading and taking an interest in posts on Silenced Voices and the people of Palestine. It has inspired me to continue. Often I am asked questions; here are my answers.

I am a person, much like you – no smarter, only with experience in living in the occupied West Bank of Palestine and getting to know the people who live there. I don’t speak Arabic, but many there know some English, which is taught in grade school. My neighborhood is mainly Muslim with Christians making up less than 20% of the population. They are people like you and me with the same hopes and desires. Foremost is the desire to be free of Israeli occupation.

The Internet and research books are time consuming; and news reports do not tell the stories of these human victims of political policies. I believe they are the real heroes in a battle for justice in an unjust world they did not create.

The only way to understand the complex issues of Israel/Palestine is to go there. Seeing the three story high concrete separation walls, demolished homes, the “Jewish” only roads, raises questions, “Is this fair? Is it democratic?”

Israeli guided tours hustle tourists by bus to religious and historical destinations in Bethlehem, warn against mingling with Palestinians and allow no time to know the people of Palestine. Fortunately, Palestinian tours are now opening up. They originate in occupied Bethlehem and allow you to meet Palestinians, stay in hotels or in bed and breakfast homes to experience gracious Palestinian hospitality.

For many, travel is not likely. Yet to understand occupation you must see it up close, meet people who have every part of their life controlled by outsiders. A few days before I arrived in November, I got word that the husband of my friend and landlady died of a heart attack. There had been no time to get the required permit for him to travel to a proper hospital six miles away. He was only 59.

Before the Internet opened doors to what it was like to live in occupied Palestine, Americans and Europeans knew only what was learned from a heavily controlled mainstream press.

Silenced Voices lets ordinary people speak about their lives, their hopes and dreams for the future of their country. Reading their stories, we realize they are people like you and me, with the same hopes and dreams; primarily to live free to come and go without being harassed at checkpoints, detained, searched and denied travel. For now, supported by the United States, eleven million Palestinian people worldwide remain imprisoned by walls, checkpoints and endless restrictions. Walls divide them physically, and walls of propaganda keep their stories from the world outside.

When in the occupied West Bank, I live among Palestinians. From my experience, they are friendly, helpful and honest and gentle by nature. Streets are safe; and day or night I can walk in Bethlehem and Arab areas elsewhere and feel safe.

Mainstream news reports offer little about what life is like for the people who live each day under occupation. To gain real understanding, you need to talk to these people. Silenced Voices is my attempt to tell their stories and all stories of those who live in the troubled region known as Israel/Palestine.

Not Web savvy, I rely on my friend Billie for her expert advice. I owe her thanks for setting up Silenced Voices, and guiding me. Bluehost is the platform that hosts her account; and she hosts mine. If interested in more info, you can access it from http://billienoakes.com.

Thank you for your interest in Silenced Voices; you have inspired me to post more.
Working for peace with justice for all,