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Message from Leila Sansour

As I prepare to return to Bethlehem
for what I hope will be a special
Christmas, I can look back on the
last two months as the most intense
of my life. The creation of Open
Bethlehem has been a significant
achievement for everyone involved.
The project was launched on two
fronts: first, to build a political
campaign to raise awareness of the
dangers facing Bethlehem and
second, to create a city regeneration
project establishing Bethlehem as a
prime tourist destination, shaped by
Bethlehemís own citizens.

It is difficult to believe that the
campaign was born only nine
months ago. It has taken a great deal
of commitment from very many
people to take us so far, so fast. I
would like to express my personal
thanks to our Director in Bethlehem,
Carol Dabdoub who has been the
best partner I could dream of, and to
Jumana Al-Husseini in Jordan
without whom this whole project
would never have happened. I owe a
very special thank-you to the JAC
Trust in the UK, our very first
supporter, and to The Swiss
Development Agency for their
unwavering support, and their
commitment to new voices in
Palestine. I would also like to thank
Fadi Ghandour, a true friend of
Open Bethlehem from the beginning;
Nabeel Qaddumi, one of our most
generous patrons; Louay Abu
Ghazaleh and Bassem Al-Shahabi.

Can Bethlehem survive its current
crisis or will the world sleep through
the destruction of the city of God?
We cannot answer this question.
One thing is clear, though: we have
never taken the message into our
own hands. We havenít done enough
to voice the most profound values of
our city. At Open Bethlehem, we
believe that our city may still have a
future if we fight for it with all the
energy and creativity it deserves. We
must: for our own sake and for the

Leila Sansour, Chief Executive,
Open Bethlehem.


Into 2006 Ö Open Bethlehem
begins the New Year with our
presentation at the Middle East
Travel and Tourism Summit in
Jordan and our involvement in the
planning of the crucial Palestine
Development and Investment
Conference to be held in Bethlehem
in April 2006.

We need to extend and strengthen
our support base, and as we organise
a major speaking tour of the States,
we are looking for partner
organisations to co-host events. We
also need to strengthen our ties with
the Diaspora, gaining from their
experience and helping them
effectively target the support of
their adoptive nations. In addition to
our US tour, we are warmly
anticipating a tour of Chile and other
countries in South America to meet
our countrymen in their new homes.

Open Bethlehem will continue to
find partners within the travel
industry to market the Open
Bethlehem tour. We have already
developed promotional films to
market our city, and in the coming
year we will shape promotional
tools for all our potential markets

Open Bethlehem is building a
historical archive of our city. We
already have a rich collection of
photographs spanning the earliest
days of photography to the present
day. In 2006, we will be planning an
international travelling exhibition:
Bethlehem, Past and Future and
would like to invite all potential
partners worldwide to contact us to
make this happen.

Finally, we are building a city pride
campaign within Bethlehem,
listening to the needs of our city and
building on our own creativity, talent
and our extraordinary historical and
spiritual heritage. We promise,
Christmas 2006 will herald a truly
special year in the life of our city.

Please Visit Openbethlehem.org


Our Bethleham Headquarters:
Open Bethlehem
Bethlehem University
Room 5 Ė Millennium Building
Tel/Fax: ++ 972 (2) 274 1241 Ext:
Email us:

Our London Office:
Victoria Chamber
16 - 18 Strutton Ground
London SW1P 2HP
Tel: +44 (0) 207 222 7820
Fax: +44 (0) 207 222 5480