جامعة النجاح الوطنية
An-Najah National University

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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.‎

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