Waging Peace, November 2010, Pages 62-63

Bethlehemite Wins Debate

Vivien Sansour. (Staff photo S. Twair)

Vivien Sansour had hardly returned to Southern California from her new home in the West Bank City of Jenin (see page 43) when she drove three hours to Ventura on July 28 to deftly debate two Israel apologists in Eastminster Presbyterian Church. Jet lag didn't deter her from winning over the audience during the third program in a series entitled "Hot Topics: Israel and Palestine."

Hal Miner, who says he was born a Gentile but is now a member of the Messianic Synagogue in Agoura Hills, cited prophesies, chapters and verse from the Old Testament that decree the Jews are a chosen people and that their home is Israel.

When it was her turn to speak, Sansour commented: "I don't believe in a chosen people, I think we're all chosen. It's hard to believe God would select one group to be superior over all others. I'm not talking tonight about who was there, but about the oppression going on there now."

Sansour's PowerPoint presentation featured slides of Israel's apartheid wall which is desecrating the beauty of Christian sites in Bethlehem as well as separating Palestinians from their farmlands and olive groves. She also showed photos of a forested hilltop overlooking Jerusalem which Israel has turned into the cement and cinderblock settlement of Har Homa, as well as slides of highways on which Jews only are allowed to drive.

"Whether Christian or Muslim, we Palestinians share the same culture and have lived harmoniously for centuries," Sansour continued. She explained to the Presbyterian audience that Christian Palestinians have emigrated from their homeland because Israel has destroyed their traditional sources of income.

Gil Ramot, director of outreach and programs for the Jewish Federation of Ventura County, said that, as an Israeli, what he calls the security fence enables Jews to feel safe from suicide bombers when they board a bus. He added that it was painful for Jewish settlers to be removed from Gaza and claimed that all they received in return were rockets shot from Gaza into Israel.

Sansour replied that Palestinians are perpetually terrified by the prospect of Israeli aerial bombs and missiles as well as violent IDF raids into homes at any time of the night or day.

Samir Twair