From Jenin to Ramallah
I am 26 years old. I grew up in Jenin, but I live in Ramallah today. My family is still in Jenin.
Jenin is very different from Ramallah. Ramallah is a big city, and many Palestinians move here from different places because there are more possibilities. Jenin is a small city, and it doesn’t have many opportunities, especially when it comes to work and education. I like Jenin, but prefer Ramallah.
I miss my family, but I get to see them every other week for two days, and they also come to Ramallah. When I travel from Ramallah to Jenin, there are two checkpoints, so it takes more time, even though it’s not too far away. If there is a little traffic, it will take me an hour and a half to get there. If there is a lot of traffic, it can take two and a half hours.
Going Abroad Via Jordan
I can’t travel through Ben Gurion [Airport] because we don’t have permits, so every time I go abroad I travel through Amman. It takes many hours to travel from Palestine to Jordan because of all the procedures, especially at the Allenby crossing. Although the distance is very short, you will spend more than five hours getting to Amman.
There are many checkpoints from Jericho to the central Israeli checkpoint. Then, there is another checkpoint to go through security procedures, and finally a Jordanian checkpoint to go through a very long security check there. Only after all of this are we able to travel to the airport.
All of your belongings have to be checked, and you wait many hours. Security could make it easier and faster, but it seems like they like to make people wait. So if I fly from Jordan, I have to leave my home one day before my flight. For example, if I leave Ramallah at eight in the morning, I arrive in Jordan at four in the afternoon.
Every time I travel abroad, I promise myself that I will not repeat this again because I get tired of all these procedures. I never get used to it. I feel discriminated against, and it’s exhausting every time.
JerusalemI have been to Jerusalem a couple of times. Most of these times I went to the Old City, but I have been to the Western part of Jerusalem as well. I love travelling, but when it comes to Jerusalem, I believe it is the best place ever. It really feels like a holy place.
I’m very connected to Jerusalem, and every time I go there it become increasingly more difficult to return to Ramallah. Jerusalem has something magical. It’s not about me being a Muslim, because I’m really not that religious. I think it’s something about the way in which the city was built.
I am curious about the Orthodox Jews living there. I would love to learn about them and to experience what it is like to live the way they do.
Before I personally met any Israelis, I only saw Israelis as they’re portrayed in the media, and as soldiers. I finally met Israelis personally through an organization that promoted dialogue between both sides. The day that I was supposed to meet Israelis for the first time, I still held anger towards them and I wasn’t too happy about meeting them, because I thought that they would be against Palestine. After I met and talked to them, I found something different. They are not like the soldiers at the checkpoint. They are educated and believe in our rights.
While I know that there are still people on the Israeli side who look at us in the same way that they always have, I believe they can have their minds changed.
A Palestinian Diplomat
I studied English literature and graduated in 2011. Today I work in Ramallah in two different fields. One field deals with Palestinian craftsmanship and the arts in order to contribute to the development of Palestinian heritage. The second field is in an institution where I coordinate between my work place to offices abroad.
I would love to become a Palestinian diplomat, because my job is connected to work with other countries. I can see myself in the political field and working with embassies and consulates.
I began learning Turkish, because I fell in love with Istanbul and I love Turkey so much. Knowing two languages besides English is also important to become a diplomat. I would love to learn Hebrew as well, but first Turkish.
My family is more modern than many other families. They are flexible and not so old-fashioned. Other families would not let their daughters, nor their sons, be engaged in politics because it can bring outside pressure, and they can be criticized. But my family supports me in achieving my dreams.
Changing The Minds Of People
I hope that more foreigners and Israelis will get to witness how Palestinians suffer. For example, to see how parents deal with their children being in prison, and how they move around from one city to another with so many checkpoints and procedures. It would definitely change their minds about Palestinians.
This doesn’t, however, justify a Palestinian’s action when he or she does something wrong, but sometimes you can understand where it comes from. When you feel discriminated against and can’t do anything about it, you feel like you cannot do anything peaceful with Israelis.
I want not only Israelis, but the whole world, to understand that Palestinians are peaceful people; they are not terrorists. They seek freedom, dignity, and equal rights; they are educated and cultured.
As Palestinian women, we are trying to do the best we can to improve and achieve many goals. We work in the government and in communities. We work side by side with men, but we also work on our own.
I want the whole world to change their perspectives of Palestine and Palestinian people. I want to suggest that people all over the world shouldn’t believe everything the media says. People have to believe in human rights and to witness the situation here, before they judge one party or the other.