Tuesday, May 26, 2009


We arrived at Joseph's home yesterday afternoon and we’re amazed by the view. His home, which is on a hill (the whole area is very mountainous), overlooks a large portion of Bethlehem. We can see from there much of the new construction of the area, which includes some of the rebuilding of Palestine especially after the First Intifada in 1987 and the acts of retaliation which was destructive to the area physically and destroyed the area economically. Much of this rebuilding is being done by the Palestinian National Authority with monetary help from countries in Europe as well as places like Dubai.

Off a little further in the distance, but not that much, we can see the new Settlement. Not to be crude about it looks a little like a blatant Imperial structure out out of a George Lucas film. It's amazing that you can see the land war going on here in Bethlehem in looking at this hillside. A land war where one side is, well, better financed.

Last night we spent some quality time with the family and the extended family. Although it is common for friends and family to stop by the home for meals, or just anytime, this was somewhat of a special night, on Joseph’s return. The kids Elias, Haneen and Ala are all very warm and have made us feel very included, and everyone is warming up to the camera as well. It is heartwarming to see Joseph with his kids and his life is taking on new meaning for us each day.

If fact, we are on content overload. There is so much here that looks, sounds and feels so different, and every question that we ask is met with a somewhat complicated answer. Things here are not straightforward for a people being pulled and pushed by so many forces, and for so many years. The people are just trying to live their life as best they can. They build despite the fact they don't know how long it will be before what they have worked for is upset again by the conflicts of the larger powers and their interests.


  1. Great to read your news. So much to digest. So much to be present for. Thanks for posting.- Laura

  2. Thanks for the insights into the lives of people around Bethlehem. It's been fun to follow here and learn about this region. It was exciting to hear about Joseph's homecoming with his family.

  3. thanks for your perspective. give my love to Joseph and his family.

  4. Sylwia! This is Michael-Ellyn Schetzle. I have been following you in your travels, so wonderful that you are making your dreams come true. I am in awe of you.

    Thank you Katherine for blogging this incredibly important cultural journey so that those of us searching for a connection outside of ourselves can feel like we are meeting Joseph's family with you among other things - connecting with reality.

    I lift you all up in prayer for a safe trip and many priceless memories on tape as well as in your hearts forever.

    Ms. Michael-Ellyn

  5. I'll be following your blog with great interest and best of luck in your travels. If it offers any context, I was grilled extensively myself at Ben Gurion airport back in 2004 (more going than coming, oddly enough), and that is as an American Jew with very close relatives living is Israel.

    Best of luck in your travels. I am very much interested in your experiences. Try to keep an open mind, however, as there is much gray area in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so try and maintain that perspective in formulating judgements about the place and (all of) it's people.