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August 09th 2005

Lecture for 11th graders at Albertus-Magnus-Gymnasium in Bensberg

Annelise Butterweck arranged that we, three „Women in Black„ from Cologne, got the opportunity to speak in front of students of the 11th grade history class about our travel experiences in the Westbank in August 2004. On June 16th, we stood in front of the very interested students in the ages from 17 to 18 years and showed them our pictures. The school has a student exchange program with an Israeli Highschool. A few months ago, several youths from Israel visited Bensberg and somehow startled our sheltered students with their strong nationalism. All three of us – Annelise Butterweck, Emmy Heinz and me – also realized that for the first time our listeners heard someting in detail about the life of the Palestinians. So far they had only known the Israeli point of view concerning the Palestinians.

The life of the Jahalin-Bedouins on the „Jabal„ next to the Jerusalem waste disposal site demonstrates how Palestinians have to live under the Israeli occupation. We talked about the life of the Jahalin since they have been driven out of the Negev in 1948 and about their current efforts to settle on the „Jabal„. Mainly we described the situation talking about a kindergarten project of the Cologne „Women in Black„, that hopefully can start soon with support of the City of Cologne. We described Ma'ale Adumim, a jewish settlement in the Westbank, and the checkpoints. We explained the difficulties of crossing the Wall by the example of the students, who have to go to Abu Dis in order to study at Al Quds University. We also mentioned and described the work of Anna Crummenerl, a peace-worker from Cologne, and her Palestinian and Israeli volunteers. With the pictures that we had taken last year, we were able to introduce the women, men, and children of the Jahalin and their life. Due to the special circumstances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and because in the modern world they had to give up their nomad-life, the way of life of the bedouins is changing. Because of this they recognize the importance of a good education.

The youths from Bensberg listened very interestedly and openly what we had to say. They asked very good questions, which we answered gladly, as far and as well as we could. For example: what are the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? When did it start? Which role does zionism play? How does the Israeli peace movement work? Are there any Palestinian peace groups? Do both sides work together? What can we do? In which way can we help the Jahalin?

We were very happy about the students' great interest about the fate of the Jahalin and hope that in the future we will be able to tell more groups about our experiences.

Another opportunity came up on June 18th, at the summer-festival of the Protestant Women Groups at the Cologne „Kartause„. There we were able to show the embroidery made by the Jahalin women, our information materials, and our pictures. We were very glad about the many women who visited us and had a look around our information materials. We had several conversations, told about the Jahalin and answered questions about their life. We did not only receive a few larger donations and sold some of the embroidery, but also have been invited to Cologne-Zündorf this fall, in order to speak about the Jahalin and our projects.

Both events have encouraged us to continue our work and in this way reveal a little bit of the Palestinians' fate, which is covered by a veil of ignorance.

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