Voices of three Bethlehem teenagers

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Iskander Salameh (16), Juliana Salah (15) and Nader al-Madbouh (14) tell about respect, religion and friendship.  

  “Our actions determine what we are, not our differences in religion.”


Iskandar Salameh (16), Christian

Respect is to accept other people with all their negative and positive traits, and not to judge or look at them in term of their religion or race or nationality. We should see them as human beings equal to yourself. Mutual respect can be found in all relations. I feel I’m appreciated when people listen to my opinion without bias. Also, I feel appreciated when I’m able to express my points and opinions to all people and in turn gain respect from them despite differences in opinions.

I feel proud of myself whenever I do something useful and good to my society. I get hurt when I see how people’s rights are violated in their society, and they don’t have simple, basic rights including the right to live, to have sufficient food, and to have good education. What offends me is to see indifference in the society toward people who need care and help. I remember the last time I felt offended was when the school principal fired an orphan child. I got upset, wondering: what was his fault? I respect all people.

For me, we are all humans despite differences in our opinions. People are the same whatever their religion. We have a common saying in Palestine that ”Everyone endures his/her own religion.” People are born free but do not choose their own religion. Their families   determine the religion they should follow. People follow what their families forced them to follow without questioning whether it’s right or wrong.

I don’t care about the religion of my friends. In my opinion, friendship means standing beside our friends to endure the difficulties we encounter in our life. So religion has nothing to do with our friendship. Our actions determine what we are, but not our differences in religion. A friend is the one who helps and stands beside you during all your life. A friend is the one who  Iskandar Salameh (16), Christian

doesn’t care about your religion, race, and even gender. The good friend fills the emptiness in your life. My friend shares with me my happiness and sadness. My friend is honest, good and  respected. Our friendship shouldn’t be based on exploitation or making use only of advantages or benefits.

“A friend is somebody who accepts you just the way you are.”


Juliana Salah (15), Christian 

Respect is how we relate to others, when we think, talk and act in a positive way while dealing with others. I think you respect others as you would want others to respect you

I feel respect and appreciated when people talk to me in a nice way and when they treat me with respect. I feel proud when I help people and also when I make people happy. 

It hurts when people lie to me, when people don't trust me and also when people don't respect me. I think that we should show respect to all people (parents, friends, a sportive..etc) and you should respect all even though they don't respect you.

Religion is very important for me, because from religion we can learn many things, such as how to respect people, how to treat people and many other things. The most important one is how to love people and how to love yourself however you look like. Differences of religion are not important, because all of us believe in one God.

A friend is somebody who let you be yourself, loves you, accepts you just the way you are, who is always there for you, helps you and stands beside you in good and bad times as well as understands you. This is what a real friend is to me.


“I respect all people who respect me.“


Nader Al-Madbouh (14), Muslim 

A lot of things make me proud such as achieving something I wanted to achieve. Also, when I succeed in many things in my life, especially making people love me.

Respect means a lot for me. It is the most important trait when people deal with each other. It is also what makes people’s relations comfortable and friendly. I feel I am respected and appreciated when people treat me in a nice and friendly way. Of course people respect me when I respect them, so I feel I am respected when I respect people. I especially respect my parents, brothers, and sister. Also, my friends and teachers. I respect all people who respect me.

I feel I am offended when somebody doesn’t respect me while talking. Or doesn’t care whether I am talking to him or notThe last time I felt offended was a month ago. When I  and some other people were talking about a topic. I started sharing with them my opinion about the topic and while I was talking, one of the people said: “Please, you are still too young to talk about these things.” I really felt offended at that moment.

Religion is important to me, but not in a way that makes me base my opinion about people in term of their religion. My best friends have different religions and we are more than friends.

To be a friend is something that means a lot for me. A friend means the person who understands me and helps me when I need him/her, and the most important thing my friend does is accepting me as I am.


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