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Arab Educational Institute


About Us | Background | Director's Statement | AEI open Windows: Youth house workshop report | Letter from Bethlehem (1) | Letter from Bethlehem (2) | Letter from Bethlehem (3) | Letter from Bethlehem (4) | BETHLEHEM COMMUNITY BOOK | MORAL STORIES FROM PALESTINE | BAKDUNSIYYEH | Recent and Upcoming Events | Photo Album | Narrative Report 2000/1 | Getting Involved | Contact Us

This book is going to be changed to another book named
Your Stories Are My Stories

On this page you will be introduced to Moral stories from Palestine in six chapetrs. So you will learn more about the Moral stories in Palestine through the information that you are going to read. The book is written by Dr. Toine van Teeffelen from the AEI.


The Culture and Palestine series

The Culture and Palestine series explores various expressions of the Palestinian culture and heritage, including material items such as types of food or popular arts, and immaterial ones like traditional stories and customs. It is the series' purpose to involve the Palestinian school communities in learning to know about, and to express knowledge of Palestinian culture; to understand its relevance for contemporary situations, and to communicate it to a public abroad.

1. Sahtain: Discover the Palestinian Culture by Eating. 110 pp. Published by the Freres School in Bethlehem, 1999.

2. Moral Stories of Palestine. Published by the Arab Educational Institute. Accompanied by teacher manual and card game. Bethlehem, 1999.

3. Bethlehem: A Community Book. A publication exploring the culture and contextual history of Christianity in Bethlehem and environment. Published by the Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem, Christmas 1999.


This book contains moral stories collected from the Arab-Palestinian culture. The stories can be used as a relaxed reading or for educational purposes.
What are Palestinian stories? They are not just stories which circulate, or have circulated, amongst Palestinians. Probably most of them have been told, in one version or another, in different parts of the Arab world. Also, many religious stories appear in slightly different versions in Moslem, Christian and Jewish (popular) culture. Palestinian stories are at bottom "multicultural."
Almost all stories have been rewritten in order to harmonize the book's style, to delete old-fashioned expressions, and to abbreviate the stories.
A detailed teacher manual accompanies the book. The stories, grouped around six moral concepts, can be used as a resource for peace or moral education. The story book and teacher manual are provided in both English and Arabic since the Palestinian discussion about how human relations can be reconstructed along peaceful lines is a topic relevant to Palestinians and foreigners alike.
The project also features a card game and the organization of some meetings held in the Bethlehem and Hebron areas of Palestine over the last months of 1999. Dr Toine van Teeffelen has been involved in the project as researcher and writer and Fuad Giacaman as coordinator and manager on behalf of the Arab Educational Institute.
We wish to thank the Dutch Haella Foundation and Belgian Broederlijk Delen for their generous support of the overall project.

Arab Educational Institute
Bethlehem, Palestine
December 1999


Copyright: Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem, 1999

Printed in Bethlehem, Palestine RAI house of art

Copies can be ordered at the Arab Educational Institute,
P.O.Box 681, Bethlehem, Palestine via Israel
Fax: 00-972-2-277.7554

Drawings: Adnan Zubeidi



The Blind Eye

Once a man performed a good deed, and God wanted to reward him. However, he had been badly treated by his brother and now nourished a deep hatred. Not wanting to encourage him, God sent His Angel and told the man that as a remuneration for his deed he would receive anything he wished - on the condition that his brother would receive twice as much.
The angel gave the man time to think. The man dreamed about the mountains of gold he could get... but then his brother would get even more. He dreamed about the lands he would farm... but his brother would receive more lands. He dreamed about having many children but his brother would have more.
The angel came to hear his decision. The man trembled, caught between his dreams and hatred. Finally he told the angel: "I wish to be good but I cannot. Please leave me with one eye."

A Reconciliation

Once upon a time during the Intifada a car accident happened near the crossroads Bethlehem-Hebron-Beit Jala. The driver was a Christian young man from Bethlehem. The child who was knocked down and killed was a Moslem from Abu Dis village near Jerusalem. The Arab custom on such occasions is to send some dignitaries who know the tribal traditional laws (Al 'Urf) well and know how to make a truce (Al Athwa) so as to avoid any revenge or bloodshed instigated by the family of the victim.
So some elderly men of Bethlehem area went to Jerusalem. There they met the old people of the victim. The Bethlehem spokesman and his companions started to make apologies for what happened and requested a truce on behalf of the Bethlehem people. The spokesman who represented the family of the child stood up and told them that he would not make any truce unless the driver who caused the fatal accident would appear in front of all the people.
The Bethlehem notables became worried and could not understand the motive behind the highly unusual demand. After consultations, the spokesman of the Bethlehemites stood up and, hesitatingly, accepted the demand, asking for guarantees to secure the safety of the driver. The Jerusalem spokesman stood up and said: "After God, the sole guaranteer of all, I am the one who can secure his life. No one will touch him or inflict any harm on him. However, please bring him here in front of all."
Then a group of elderly people went back to Bethlehem and brought the driver. All people on both sides were worried and afraid. The old spokesman ordered for coffee to be served. Now according to tradition, coffee is served only after the truce has been agreed upon. Some people who were ignorant about the custom drank the coffee, but most wanted to wait until the announcement came.
The old man noticed that many of the Bethlehem people did not drink their coffee. He stood up, and insisted that everybody should drink it. After they did so, he said: "God had given us this child and God has taken him. We are all sorry. This young driver did not intend to kill him. May God forgive him and forgive us all. Go back, you people of Bethlehem. This is life and we are all people of the same God of the same country. We neither want Athwa nor any compensation. May God pardon you and have mercy on our son and all the dead..."

The Lost Boys

At one day during the time of the Intifada two young Jewish boys from Jerusalem ran to catch the last bus. Panting profusely, and relieved that they had caught the bus, they did not realize that they took the wrong direction. At the end of the route, they left the bus and looked around them. Where were they? The bus driver wanted to go home and did not bother to help them. Not knowing where to go, they chose a road which they thought would lead them back home. However, the road led them only further astray.
They walked away from Jerusalem into Bethlehem. While walking for hours in the dark, they saw the dim houses along the road becoming stranger and poorer. Leaving Bethlehem they walked towards Dheisha refugee camp.
There, finally, was a man at a gas station who stopped them. They did not know what to do. The man was Arab, could they trust him? He was friendly and suggested the kids to call their home.
The kids' parents were terribly worried. Hearing that the boys were in a Palestinian refugee camp did not lessen their worries. They knew there had been regular clashes between Palestinian refugees and Israeli soldiers. The kids could have been kidnapped! But nothing dramatic happened. The man at the gas station simply put on a fire in the cold night and kept the boys warm until their parents came to pick them up.
After the parents had thanked him and made ready to leave homewards, the man asked them to stay one minute more. He told the boys' parents about the fate of his family. Some of his brothers were in prison and another had died of Israeli bullets. However, he said that he was glad to do the parents a favor. He did not feel hatred towards the Jews.

A Palestinian Woman and an Israeli Child

During one of the Intifada days, a young Palestinian woman was trapped between two groups of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone throwers. Gas grenades were thrown and the woman had to close the windows of her car. She was four months pregnant. She felt about to suffocate but managed to go home. However, her pains increased and at night she was admitted to the hospital. Next day she had an abortion and saw her four months old' baby boy dead. She was terribly depressed since it was the second abortion she suffered during the last three years.
A week later she visited a medical doctor in Jerusalem for a check up. When coming out of the doctor's clinic, she saw nearby on top of an electric staircase an Israeli child who was recklessly playing and about to fall down. Thoughts rushed through her mind. Should she leave him and let him die the way the Israeli soldiers let her boy die a week ago, or should she make a desperate attempt to grab him? All of a sudden, she felt an impulse that made her hurry forwards. Throwing herself in front of the boy she prevented his fall...