Getting A Comprehensive and Unique Impression of Palestine
When we arrived in Nablus city on the 1st of July 2019, we were warmly welcomed by the young voluntary students of the Zajel program. We introduced ourselves to each other in a family park while enjoying cool drinks. We also learned a lot about the program of the following days.
By: Jessica - Germany
All in all, I was thrilled with the great hospitality and helpfulness of all volunteers and the commitment of Zajel coordinators. Everybody has always tried to provide us with the necessary things and to show us as much as possible of their country and their lives. Thank you very much!!
We were always traveling with the volunteer students, be in Nablus or in other cities. We were in Jericho, Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem cities. We also spent a night in the desert with Bedouins on the Dead Sea.
After exploring the old town of Nablus and the new and old campus of An-Najah National University, Nablus on the first day, we visited the Nakba refugee camp at the second day. The refugee camp is oppressive by its narrow streets, the lack of privacy of the residents. We were very lucky to meet an old lady who was ready to tell us about her expulsion in 1948 and the related life in the camp. Her report was very touching, emotional and moving. Here was the national pride of the Palestinians for the first time very obvious to me. This national pride has accompanied us throughout our stay and is inherent to the Palestinians.
It is highly recommended to visit the old town of Nablus. The traditional, original life can be experienced in the market lanes.
The Samaritan village is also worth a visit. The small denomination lives in isolation, yet accepted by the Muslim Palestinians. All in all, in addition to Muslims, Christians and the Samaritans live in Palestine, but at best people mix in social life, not in private life. To move with local students, was the easiest way to get around in Nablus. That way you were accepted by the public and not only a tourist.
Palestine is not officially a country of its own and Israel makes sure to be present. Be in the form of check points on the roads or in front of settlements, which are preferably built on the highest points of the cities. In contact with the people, one cannot help but become aware of the injustice that has happened to their families or continues to happen to them. This was a very important experience for me, especially for my understanding of the Middle East conflict.
In Bethlehem, a small, beautiful city, people are used to tourists. Crowds flock daily to the Nativity Church, Milk Grotto and to Sheperd's Field.
But especially exciting was the evening, the night and the morning in the desert with the Bedouins. Here was a bit of holiday mood: romantic sunset in the middle of the desert, a brightly lit starry sky in the evening and a unique beautiful sunrise on a cliff in front of the Dead Sea the next morning.
The next day was quite different, a visit to Hebron city. The political situation in Hebron is very tense as almost half of the city is occupied by Israelis. The most visible and sustainable experience in terms of the situation of the Palestinians in the Palestinian - Israeli area was for me the visit to Hebron. Hebron actually means "friendship" in both Hebrew and Arabic.
IUn the Palestinian zone of Hebron, our Palestinian volunteers are also moving relaxed through the Old Town. At the bazaar everyone looks around, we buy and talk with market vendors.
Ramallah city stands as a modern city in strong contrast to Nablus or Hebron. You immediately sense the openness and the metropolitan character of the city.
But also Jericho city offers as a welcome change to Nablus. It is a place of pilgrimage of Christians from all over the world. However, you should be prepared for the heat.
All in all, I can only recommend this work camp, because only then can you get a comprehensive and unique impression of Palestine in just not even two weeks.