Thursday 16 April 2015

Abu Dis – We see more because we are not from here

This feels familiar. I don’t feel like this is the first time I’ve walked along the dusty road, or that this is the first conversation I’ve had with Mussa or Hazem (I know it won’t be the last), and it definitely doesn’t feel like the dancing sounds of Arabic are strange. But this is what we are. Strangers. We are not from here.

Yallah. Musa tells us as we dilly dally and gather our belongings for our first day in Palestine. I can’t help but smile because I know I’m back in the company of Palestinians. This is what I was looking forward to, what I am looking forward to. I’m excited to see words of resistance on pages I’ve read come alive, for the images I’ve seen of beautiful Palestine to become coloured in my mind. But mostly I am ready to learn about the real lives and real struggles faced by Palestinians. Because I know it is more than just the words I read. When I put down my book and resume my normal life in London, I know the injustices continue.

The reality of Palestine is quite wonderful. This is hard to accept because of the concrete Iron Wall that cuts through the land and separates Palestine from Palestine and Palestine from Israel. But wonderful is what it is. Our kind hosts- Abid, Hazem, Mussa, Husam, Nadine- full of interest and kind gestures welcome us to Dar Assadaqa. We take a short walk around Abu Dis, wind stronger than we thought. During our walk we encounter the wall, the military base (Israeli), as expected. We also spot real life; about five or six hair salons, a pizza place, a chemist, a few places to enjoy nargila.
I feel at home here. I am in Palestine, finally. After many years of thinking I wouldn’t be able to get here-  because I’m a Muslim and because I’m not Caucasian- I’m here where my new friends ask me ‘kay fiik?’. I have so many things I want to ask, want to see, want to understand and I can’t wait to get started.

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