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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Samir Victor Abudayyeb

It happens every Sunday. Worshipers at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Beit Jala, adjourn to a fellowship hall for tiny cups of high-octane Middle Eastern coffee. As the Arabic conversation grows animated, one member turns to a foreign guest and says in English, "It's the political situation. That's the only subject here."

"It's frustrating," says Samir Victor Abudayyeb. "People think we are terrorists because we are fighting for our rights to go to work in our own land without being stopped and harassed.

"I go through [security sectors] B and C to get to my pharmacy. But they have bulldozed the roads, so I must park my car at the roadblock and take a taxi to the next roadblock--and there I get out and must take another bus or taxi.

"I listen to the news to see--is there shooting or fighting? And I talk to people on the road to see if there are new checkpoints. And then I stand in the sun or rain to wait and see if they will let me pass. A 15-minute trip can take hours. I see some beaten because they try to avoid the checkpoints.

"Most people work in Israel and not many of them can get to work. Our people are very proud. They don't beg. They will pick up any sort of job they can. But the economy is almost destroyed.

"Peace is the only solution, but Israel wants its own peace--to secure its people by dividing our areas. They must treat us as human beings and implement U.N. resolutions for things to improve. Talk between Jews and Palestinians will not do anything now. Talk [and leadership] must come from the United States.

"The future? I don't know. We wanted a third child, but now .... With all the shooting in Beit Jala [in late October], my wife was so stressed by the sound of the gunfire that she miscarried."


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September issue

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