(Host) With Bethlehem under siege in the Mideast conflict, Burlington residents have raised more than $5,000 for humanitarian aid. Bethlehem is Burlington’s sister city in the West Bank.
In December, the Sister City Committee in Vermont began raising money for medical centers and schools in Bethlehem. Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle urged Vermonters to support the humanitarian project:
(Clavelle) “The situation in Bethlehem has been very difficult for some time and over the past week becoming even more difficult. These people really need our help. They’re without employment, medical aid and services are in short supply, schools have closed, folks are finding difficulty getting food. So conditions have gone from bad to quite intolerable.”
(Host) Bethlehem and Burlington have been sister cities since the mid-1990s, when an agreement was made for Burlington to partner with a sister city in the West Bank and a sister city in Israel.
Since then, Burlington has participated in person-to-person exchanges and peace-building efforts with people from the cities of Bethlehem and Arrad.
Clavelle says that the immediate concern for the well-being of people in Bethlehem doesn’t undermine Burlington’s goal for a three-way partnership:
(Clavelle) “The vision remains the same, is that we will establish connections not only between folks from Burlington and Arrat, Burlington and Bethlehem, but broker relations between Bethlehem and Arrad as well.”
(Host) A member of Bethlehem’s city council was supposed to receive the donations in person in Burlington Monday, but was unable to visit Vermont because of travel restrictions and safety concerns.