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3 December, 2012

Meet Mr. Hani Imam ('77): In His Own Words

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Mr. Hani Imam, an alumnus from the first graduating class of Bethlehem University in 1977, lives in the United States and is a member of the Bethlehem University Foundation Board of Directors. He is a generous donor to Bethlehem University, also having established the Abu-El-Walid Dajani Endowed Scholarship in 2010, in honor of his teacher and supporter Mr. Walid Dajani.

Mr. Imam has reflected on the importance of Bethlehem University in his life and in the life of the people of the Holy Land from his own perspective and experience growing up as a Muslim young man born in Jerusalem.  

From Mr. Hani Imam ('77):

Mr. Hani ImamMy childhood memories of 50+ years ago, visiting Bethlehem with my dad, are so vivid because they were pleasant. As a child, I was oblivious to the changing demographics of the land and the conflicts that would continue to tear it apart.

What I saw in Bethlehem then was really beautiful: majestic, historic churches, each lit with thousands of candles, Christian institutions and a strong Christian population that defined the identity of the city. This picture existed in this part of the world for 2,000 years. The peaceful town reflected the face of Jesus and his teachings as if time never moves.

The last 50 years has brought devastation to the Palestinian people in the West Bank, particularly in Bethlehem and its surrounding towns. The Israeli occupation and resulting restrictions, conflicts, and injustices have pushed too many people, Muslims and Christians alike, to leave in pursuit of a better life. Bethlehem University helps to stop this emigration.

I was in Bethlehem last year for the first time in 30 years and what I saw was sad, to say the least. The Separation Wall surrounding the town where Jesus was born was a stark reminder of the terrible injustice of the on-going Occupation and humiliation of an entire population. But, I also visited my alma mater, Bethlehem University, and met up with some of my former teachers! This is where I saw real hope and could sense once again the positive nature of the campus that I knew as a young student in the 1970s.

Bethlehem University helps tremendously. It stands as a great example of the best of the Christian community and it’s embracing all of God’s people, in short: "catering to all." The De La Salle Christian Brothers welcome Muslims and Christians alike and have created an environment of cooperation and understanding along with a top-quality academic program. Graduates of BU, like me, understand respectful religious diversity and commitment to the greater good because we lived it every day in class and throughout campus.

The Brothers and the faculty provide a golden opportunity for the Christian and Muslim youth to pursue higher education, and hopefully to stay in the area, to build up the society and bring about a better future in the Holy Land for all.

In my opinion, a balanced, tolerant, united Palestinian nation can model itself after the students and faculty of BU. What a wonderful reason in this Christmas season and throughout the year to do all we can to support Bethlehem University!

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine