BETHLEHEM BABY STILL AT RISK, HANUKKAH OR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE?
During my six months in Israel meeting people every single day who are affected by the Welfare system and judiciary which gives no mercy, none touched me more than the mother who fled from the borders of Israel to give birth to her baby in Bethlehem.
It is impossible to begin to register the desperation in a woman who crossed the border to have her baby. The child is now registered as a Christian Palestinian.
Brigitte wanted a normal life. As a kindergarten teacher all of her life, (and with great references) all she wanted was to raise her family. Like many thousands of parents in Israel, it was not to be. Having lost her children to the Welfare, who are very unforgiving of mistakes in early life, particularly the traumatic birth of her twins - 10 weeks early, Brigitte was determined not to lose her baby daughter.
Politics aside, fear not considered - Brigitte fled to Bethlehem to give birth to her child, praying that the Palestinian Authority would do all they could to protect a child born in their territory.
Borders. A simple line in the sand has decided her fate. If she returns with her daughter to Israel, she will surely lose the child and possibly face prison. But to stay, as a Jewish woman, in the Palestinian territory is too much for her.
She calls or texts me every single day. She made videos in Hungarian, English and Hebrew. Brigitte has been a clean living woman all of her life. Tabloid press in Hungary are about to make a meal of her.
I did the only thing anyone would do. I travelled into Ramallah - alone. I went to plead for help for the child. To get to Ramallah, one has to travel through Qalandia - a no mans land in which even the Palestinians are often afraid to linger. I felt my heart in my chest, pounding as I drove through. It was the same week as John Kerry was visiting - and roads were blocked. I could not return to Israel for days. I turned to a few people I knew through social media, and placed all my faith and trust in their humanity. I made a humanitarian plea for Brigitte and her daughter. I could not remain impartial and merely write her story.
Some called it risky, some foolhardy, and some saw my visit as some sort of political treachery. I saw only the baby girl I had met. I saw just the mother who wants a way to travel to Hungary without losing the child or facing a prison sentence for what she has done.
Denial will not save this child. Politics and borders will not give the little girl her future. The candles have been lit for Hanukkah - waiting for miracles. Christmas is approaching for the Christians with the hope of good endings, hope and warm stories. There are people dying in Israel from unjust laws and a system which supports removal of children. If those who would rather disbelieve continue to do so, there will be more.
How many will it take before those outside the State step in and demand reform? How many children or how many suicides will it take of those trapped in Israel from a merciless system? These are Jewish people with a love for their land; a love for each other, who are slowly disintegrating. Social media is literally packed with people in rage or despair.
I can only hope for a seasonal miracle, as my venture into the West Bank did indeed bring sympathy and a desire to help Brigitte and her daughter. No one with an interest in Israel can turn a blind eye to a baby....can they?