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Sister Mary writes from Jerusalem - as Advent events cancelled

 I promised to follow-up on the First Sunday of Advent bazaar in Bethlehem. Remember how I had said: "Only one thing can prevent us from beginning our Advent journey -- the Israeli Occupation Force -- which stands at roadblocks controlling every entry point into Bethlehem"? Well, I was wrong. All it took was suicide bombers detonating their burdens in a pedestrian mall, up Jaffa Road in the new city of Jerusalem and on a bus in Haifa. That brought our Advent bazaar to an abrupt halt. How could we congregate in the Nativity Square for such an event when our Israeli brothers and sisters were in such grief. Nor did we know what form reprisals might take and we did not want children to be in danger. Actually we were all in shock. Here in Jerusalem we heard the explosion and then the sirens late Saturday night as younger Israelis were celebrating the end of the Sabbath in the coffee shops near Zion Square. Every person I spoke with here in the Christian Quarter on Sunday expressed horror at the death and injury of so many people and sadness for the Israeli families who were dealing with such unexpected sorrow. Many Palestinians went through their day here in the Christian Quarter with heavy hearts. Our Advent journey, 2001, began with the gospel of St. Matthew proclaiming: "For you do not know on which day your Lord will come" and it spoke to us of the bomb blasts and deaths of innocent civilians here and in Haifa. Grief filled many of our hearts at this terrible loss of life. I am sure that somewhere some media would have found some children rejoicing; I beg you to understand that these are only children who feel that the people who killed their father, mother, uncle or brother, the government that took their land away, bulldozed their house or cut down their olive trees, had been hurt. It seemed just revenge to them. They have yet to learn that this cycle of vengeance is not the path to follow. But they are not the only ones who have yet to learn.... With all the towns on the West Bank sealed off by the Israeli Occupation Force, it is doubtful that any of the events planned for the season of Advent by the Peace Centre in Bethlehem will be realized. There is no peace in this land....