“Who does not know his past, has no future!” said Carla Benelli, coordinator of Cultural Projects for the Association Pro Terra Sancta, at the end of her speech at festival held in Bethany (in Arabic Al-Aizaria) on May 1st. The title of the event was: “That Al-Qanatir”, literally “Under the Tower”, referring to the most striking structure in the area of the old town of Bethany, next to the tomb of Lazarus.
It is true in general: those who do not know their past will never really build a future. But it is even truer for the city of Bethany than from the past – from its historical, religious and cultural heritage – can really gain a huge benefit.
That is why the festival, organized by the municipality of Bethany, together with some local youth associations, the Association Pro Terra Sancta and the Mosaic Centre Jericho – with the support of the NGO Misereor and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) – had a great success. Many people participated to the event: a large part of the local community, associations and small cooperatives of craftsmen, as well as important personalities such as Mayor Musa Al-Shaer, the Jerusalem Minister, the Governor Adnan Al-Husseini, the former Minister of the Local Governemnt, Hussein Al-Araj and the Italian Consul Luigi Mattirolo.
All of them stressed the importance of Bethany in the historical and cultural context of the territory, and thanked the work of the Association Pro Terra Sancta and the Mosaic Centre, which for years have been working for the restoration and conservation of the archaeological site around the Sanctuary of the Custody of the Holy Land. After the restoration the aim is to offer concrete opportunities for economic and social development, especially for young people and women.
In the near future, a tourist path around the tomb of Lazzaro will be created. The place is currently visited by many pilgrims so the main aim is to create conditions for civil society organizations to give new impetus to economic and cultural activities. A cooperative of women, specialized in craftsmanship, students and professors of the Al-Quds University and educators from the Catholic University of Milan, are involved in the project.