BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (UMNS) ? Nearly 150 Palestinian schoolchildren will soon receive return postcards from U.S. children as the result of efforts by United Methodist bishops.
The action follows an April 28 presentation to the spring meeting Council of Bishops by a six-member team that visited the Middle East last February. While visiting Bethlehem Bible College, the group received postcards from 10- and 11-year-olds who wanted children in the United States to know what it was like to live in an occupied territory where violence and death are part of everyday life.
Each postcard has a space for a return note, and the bishops were asked to give the postcards to children in their areas for responses.
A postcard from Hanna Ruman, 11, says, "We can?t go out because of the shooting and the violence. We don?t live as other children in the world." A U.S. response from 11-year-old Matthew to another card from a different child reads, "I am so sorry you got hurt."
"This is another way for silent voices to be heard," said Bishop Ann B. Sherer of the Missouri Area. "We need to hear what has happened to Palestinians who have been forced from their land without compensation and many (of whom) now remain homeless."
Members of the United Methodist team said they received the postcards on the same day a man was killed as he tried to rush his pregnant wife through one of 16 border crossings between Ramallah and Nablus. It was also the same day the group visited Yasser Arafat. Asked if there was any hope for peace, the Palestinian leader said, "Of course. This is the Holy Land; three of the great religions are rooted here."
Arafat appealed for outside help. "We cannot do this by ourselves," he said. "I told President Bush that his father had tried to help us and he needs to do the same." Earlier, the team met Rabbi Michael Melkior, assistant deputy of defense for Israel, who said: "We need help from the U.S. and the U.N."
Sherer says her concern for a safe and secure Palestine arises from her concern for a safe and secure Israel. "Their best chance for peace rests in the withdrawal from occupied territories and the presence of U.N. peacekeepers," the bishop said.
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