From Porthmadog Back to Bethlehem

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A moving and informative documentary shown on S4C (Welsh language Channel 4) over Christmas.


Byd Pawb: Nol i Fethlehem (Back to Bethlehem)

Diek Family

A powerful documentary follows a Welsh family as they return to Bethlehem, Palestine in the Middle East. We follow Susan, 48, Tony Diek, 49 and their children Adam, 27 and Natalie, 24 as they travelled from Porthmadog, Gwynedd to Bethlehem to meet their relatives for the first time since fleeing the Palestinian West Bank 15 years ago.The programme provides one family’s unique Welsh perspective on an international conflict, and reminds us at Christmas that it continues to divide families in Bethlehem.

Susan was born and bred in Porthmadog but went to live and work in Palestine 30 years ago where she met and married Tony Diek. Tony is a Christian Palestinian but he, along with Susan and their two children, has a British passport and is an UK citizen living in a truly international home where three languages are spoken – Welsh, Arabic and English.

Trouble in Bethlehem

The Dieks knew that things had deteriorated in Bethlehem and the West Bank since they fled in 1996, with the iron and concrete wall being built by Israel around the West Bank. But nothing quite prepared them or the film crew for what they would witness. While the wall has reduced the number of Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel by 90%, the Dieks were shocked to see how it has affected everyday life in Palestine.

“We were treated terribly – we all had British passports but that counted for nothing in the eyes of the Israelis. As Tony had been born there, he was a Palestinian in their eyes,” said Susan.

Tony has two brothers in Bethlehem and a sister who lives beyond the wall in Jerusalem, Israel. But Tony was refused permission to travel to her home without a Palestinian ID. Susan and the children had to make the difficult journey through the checkpoints to Jerusalem without him. Jerusalem, a city important to Jews, Palestinians and Christians, is the focal point of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. “We had also hoped to go together to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem where we were married 30 years ago. But because of the difficulties Tony wasn’t able to come with us and yet again, 15 years on, events had separated us as a family.”

It was an emotional experience for all of them to see their family and friends once again – and realise how difficult life is for all the people living in the shadow of a wall which will encircle the West Bank once it’s completed

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