Two Palestinian students from the village of Al Walaja are visiting Bedford this week, with the aim of building links with UK students and the Bedford community.
The visitors are from a village informally twinned with Bedford in the West Bank of Palestine, near both Jerusalem and Bethlehem. They will be hosted by the Bedford Friends of Al Walaja, formed to campaign for justice for Palestinians.
The village’s council leader, Khader Alaraj, and two university students are in the UK as part of a larger student visit being organised by CADFA (Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association).
During the visit there are a number of events taking place, including a free public meeting on Sunday 2 February at the Friends Meeting House on Landsdowne Road at 6pm. The students will give presentations about their lives under the occupation.
“In Palestine, it is not surprising not being able to make it to your class because of a blocked checkpoint, a sudden military raid to the campus, clashes, or even getting arrested. It is just part of everyday life,” wrote one student.
The remainder of the tour will include a welcome from Bedford’s Mayor, Dave Hodgson, a visit to Biddenham International School as well as the Bedford campus of the University of Bedfordshire and Cranfield University.
“I am no politician, no historian, and am not one who presumes to know the answers to the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict,” said Helen Hall of Friends of Al Walaja, who has visited the Palestinian village three times.
“What I do know is that it is impossible to visit Palestine and not be shocked by the restrictions with which the people live and it is impossible to visit Palestine and not be moved by their resilience and hospitality.
“It is impossible to come back and not be changed having seen and experienced these things first hand.
“I am proud to be a small part of this move toward strengthening the links between Bedford and Al Walaja, and increasing our communities’ understanding of each other at a grass roots level.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07969 234638.