The Days I Spent in Palestine Were the Most Rewarding I Ever Experienced
The 17 days I spent in Palestine were the most rewarding I ever experienced. Forget about the media, about the politician speeches…etc. If you really want to learn about the reality of the occupation, you have to go there and see all of it with your own eyes. We had the chance to visit Bethlehem, Hebron, and many other cities and villages around Nablus, which is where we were staying during the whole volunteering program.
By: Yasmina Mehdaoui
The training workshops we were offering to students were very interesting and rewarding. They were an excellent way to exchange with the students and train them on debating skills in English. We debated over political and social issues such as the Palestinians/Israelis conflict, the Arab Spring, secularism system, the banning of the Hijab in France, Islam phobia in the world, immigration…etc. It was interesting to have the students’ point of view and opinions on these matters, and also exercise them to find arguments both sides, even if they were against or for something in particular. Finding opposite arguments was a way to force them to understand the opposite view, something important in the world, and something which was also the point of the title of the Zajel camp: “Understanding is a two way effort”. I enjoyed every moment I spent inside the old and new campuses in this great university where I could clearly feel that “they challenge the present to shape the future”.
My purpose in Palestine was to understand more the impact of the occupation on people, try to see the conflict through their eyes, exchange with them and hear what could be the solutions of a predicament that has been going on for almost seventy years now since the 1948 disaster.
I was able to witness the Israeli occupation, the settlements, the way Palestinians are treated, the privation of their rights and properties, the moral harassment, humiliation, the total absence of humanity through the Apartheid Wall and the ethnical discrimination, particularly in Hebron city. There are no words to describe or express what you feel as you witness such things, the frustration of feeling powerless and not being able to make a huge difference, the anger towards some powerful countries that support and even finance the Israeli military forces.
You think the apartheid system ended after American and South African segregation history with the fight of Nelson Mandela, Malcom X or Martin Luther King, but Palestine is one of the places that prove that wrong, and people around the world need to know that this racist and degrading system still exists around the world.
I am happy and grateful for the whole Palestinians I was able to meet and learn from along the way at An-Najah University and in the other places we had the great chance to go. I was truly pleased to see their mental strength, the hope in their eyes despite the situation. The Palestinian is not a trouble maker like they want us to believe in some of the media, the Palestinians are smart persons, who dreams and just want to have a normal life. They do not only struggle to survive; they simply want to live like everybody else, they want to be free. But seeing the Israeli authority behavior and actions, it seems like it is just too much to ask.
I often heard this proverb “they used to say Palestinians fight like heroes, now they say heroes fight like Palestinians”, and after this experience, I realized first hand that this proverb could not be more accurate, they truly represent an example of strength and patience.
I wish to thank Zajel Youth program and the An-Najah University students, the volunteers and all the people I met, for reminding me what truly matters in life, and what it is like to be a real and strong fighter on a daily basis.
Thank you for your generosity, kindness and hospitality. I will always remember you and will definitely come back.