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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
160 pages
Jun 2004
Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Bethlehem Besieged: Stories of Hope in Times of Trouble

by Mitri Raheb

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt



I am a Palestinian. For hundreds of years my family has lived and worked in Palestine. I am also a Christian, indeed a pastor in Bethlehem, birthplace of the Prince of Peace yet now strewn with the rubble of invasion and unrest. I am an Arab Christian, living in an Arab-Islamic context, a context very much shaped by an ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am not sure if it is my destiny to write books during difficult times. But writing in such a context becomes an act of nonviolent resistance: resisting being silenced, resisting being a spectator, and resisting giving up. Writing under siege overcomes the siege imposed on us, and publishing while the apartheid-like wall is being built enables me, in a sense, to transcend the wall. I was able to write this book under such circumstances only by the grace of God. It is grace if one is give a word to speak in times of trouble. It is grace if these words are not those of hate but of hope. It certainly is grace if these words can make a difference in the lives of those hearing and reading it in the little town of Bethlehem and around the world.

The turmoil in our country has been going on for so long that the biggest threat is for people to become indifferent--when watching events unfold people can "see and yet not see," when hearing breaking news people can "hear and yet not hear," thus leaving hearts untouched, closed, and cold. I write as a witness. In this little book, I ask you to witness too.  

I would like to thank my wife, Najwa, as well as my colleagues Rana Khoury, Dr. Nuha Khoury, and Rev. Sandra Olewine, who took much of my workload and responsibilities, enabling me to have time to write. I owe special thanks to Beth Lewis, President of Augsburg Fortress, to Fortress Press Editor-in-Chief Michael West as well as to Ann Delgehausen, Bob Todd, and James Korsmo, for their commitment, enthusiasm, and professional service. Finally yet importantly, I would like to thank my colleagues at the International Center of Bethlehem as well as at the Dar al-Kalima Academy for helping me keep hope alive in the little town of Bethlehem, where hope sprang up 2000 years ago.