Love Thy Neighbor: $50,000 to Bright Stars of Bethlehem

Over the past weeks, millions of Americans have been inspired, in their own way, to celebrate and defend what they believe makes our country so…American. Last Wednesday, I declared that I’d give a donation to an organization helping the youth of Palestine equal to the amount spent on travel gear through last Thursday at ricksteves.com/shop.

More than 600 of you responded, spending a total of $33,287 on our Rick Steves guidebooks, DVDs, accessories, and travel bags. That’s triple our normal total!

As promised, I’m matching your collective shopping spree. And — further motivated by our government’s threat to drastically cut domestic and foreign aid programs — I’m upping my gift to an even $50,000. Thinking about how this money will help that community in such a troubled region brings me (and hopefully all of us) real joy.

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Bright Stars of Bethlehem funds a cultural center where Palestinian boys and girls from every corner of their community can enjoy dimensions of life that we in America often take for granted. I’ve visited this center on two recent trips and its work is truly inspirational.

When I think about the “love thy neighbor” ethic and Golden Rule that is a common denominator of the three great religions that share the region we call the Holy Land, and then hear the leader of my country declare “America first,” I’m troubled by the disconnect.

I’m so thankful for your support in this small but exciting initiative. This money, when invested smartly in Palestine for such an important cause, is more than compassionate. Wielding this “soft power” from the mightiest nation on earth will contribute to an enduring peace more than the use of conventional “hard power.”

Thanks again and happy travels!

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