DETROIT— In these words, Mayor of the majority Christian town, Beit Sahour, Jihad Kheir, addressed the assembled guests at the dinner reception held in his honor Tuesday, September 10, at the Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD) Banquet Hall.
The reception was hosted by the American Arab and Muslim Leadership Council (AMLC) in cooperation with the (ICD) for community leaders, supporters, and activists in the Dearborn & Detroit Metropolitan area.
Beit Sahour’s Mayor Kheir is on a special visit to Michigan in order to garner support by Beit Sahour’s immigrants & other Palestinian communities for building a senior citizens center, destined to serve the entire southern sector of Palestine.
Beit Sahour, Beit Jala & Bethlehem are the tri-city salient located at the southern boarder of Jerusalem, dubbed by non-Palestinians, as the Christians Triangle. These three cities are thought to be among the oldest Christian communities on earth.
Beit Sahour, with a population of 15,000 comprised of 80% Christians and 20% Muslims, the city
relies primarily on tourism. As it receives 3 million visitors every year.
Mayor Kheir detailed major elements of the Strategic Development Plan adopted by the City Council elected in 2017, which is already launched for implementation.
Building the senior citizens center is but one element of the comprehensive Strategic Development Plan collectively crafted by an 85 member focus group representing various expertise, women, youth, various demographics, & vocational backgrounds.
Significant strides have already been achieved in improving the infrastructure ie. sewer system, paving streets, restoration of historic homes, as well as increased hotel capacity plus others, too long to list here.
Of special note is the Development Plan element specifying the build & launch of the already in operation, and badly needed, eye care hospital. Footing the bill under the new City leadership is a generous native son investor, who believes in our people’s self reliance.
Self reliance & Resilience are no strange concept to people of Beit Sahour. They have proudly brandished the title given them by all Palestinians: The Civil Disobedience Town. As the townspeople unanimously refused to pay taxes imposed by the Israeli Occupation authorities.
This subsequently led to the Israeli soldiers come into shops & homes to haul off confiscating home furniture- chairs, couches, beds, refrigerators, stoves, and shops crafting machines & tools.
Furthermore, one-third of the townspeople owned land is on the Israeli side of the border, designated as Area C, is off limits to farming & development by the titled land owners. Townspeople in defiance plan to develop Area C as an integral component of the strategic plan.
When asked if the city’s Development Plan will be generalized and shared with other Palestinian towns, Mayor Kheir said, “Yes, absolutely. In fact, I am the representatives of Beit Sahour to the Palestinian Towns Association. Its mission is sharing expertise & plans across Palestinian towns, and cross experience learning. This allows for an orchestrated movement forward in development across Palestine entirely.”
Mayor Kheir concluded his Michigan visit keynoting the September 14 Dinner event held at the St. George Banquet Hall in neighboring Troy, to support building the senior center. More than 450 were in attendance hailing from Flint, Detroit, as Beit Sahour patriots also traveled from, Chicago, Washington DC, and California.
It was announced at the event that Life for Relief & Development headquartered in the Detroit Area, pledged to provide the needed inside furnishing of the entire senior center once the structure is standing.
Additionally, Mayor Kheir stated the budget in its entirety is available on the City Council’s website, to help promote transparency.
Mayor Kheir concluded his address at the ICD saying: “Palestinian Christians are the mosaic of Palestine among their Muslim humanly structural backers. We proceed as one People, defeating Israeli attempts to do vide us & empty our homeland of its Christians. So they may claim the conflict is a religious war between Muslims & Jews. I assure you this will never happen.”
- N. Farah thankfully contributed to this article.