Reportback to the City Council

On December 17, 2007, members of the delegation attended the Cambridge City Council meeting to report on the delegation to Bethlehem. A number of delegates spoke of their experiences, and were affirmed as ambassadors of the City of Cambridge by the mayor, Kenneth Reeves.

Cathy Hoffman's statement:

Any time it is possible to replace harm with connections, despair with hope, or distortion with clarity, I am there. This was for me the essence of our delegation’s trip to Bethlehem. As director of the Cambridge Peace Commission, I have been a strong supporter of the Cambridge-Bethlehem People-to-People project, as a way of building relationships built on humanized and useful exchanges with Palestinians.

My government (through our tax dollars) has contributed to conditions resulting in a physical wall being built around Bethlehem and a symbolic wall which makes Bethlehemites either invisible to us or portrayed as dangerous. Since I have worked hard over the years to challenge the stereotypes in Cambridge which serve to distort and divide, I was grateful for a chance to do the same with Palestinians.

While there are many individual voices of people I met which remain with me, there were also some messages repeated over and over. “We are human beings” – a statement which no one should have to made. “You are most welcome” – meaning we are happy you came and we receive all of you with respect and gratitude for your willingness to see for yourselves and “tell the media who we are “ meaning we are teachers, students, parents, farmers, crafts people, hospital workers, city officials, business people, human rights activists – and people of Bethlehem who want the chance to finish our education, live in peace, raise our families, go to work, without restriction, imprisonment, humiliation or fear.

I have returned from Bethlehem with a renewed sense of responsibility and desire to return a tiny piece of the hospitality which I encountered and to help “reopen” Bethlehem to others especially here in Cambridge. The people-to-people project now has ways for this to happen - in person, by email, through teleconferencing which I really hope people will take advantage of. It will be of service to people there as well as to people here.

Other delegates' statements will be available shortly.