Sunday 23 April 2017

Palestine: First Impressions

Excited as we were to leave the UK to embark on our journey to Palestine, we were anxious as to what would happen at Ben Gurion Airport. The previous time we visited we were held in detainment for up to 3 hours, this time we expected the same if not more.

When we were descending into Tel Aviv, we felt as if we were landing in a European City, it was full of lights and sky scrapers. On touching the ground there was applause and cheers. We made our way through the airport where there were several posters about partnerships between Christians and Jews and about how Israel protects its minorities, which was extremely frustrating to see. As the reality is very different, there was no mention of Palestinians or Muslims or any positive affirmation towards a peaceful co-existence between these people.

We reached border control where our passports were checked, we fell victim to our Muslim names and were told yet again to wait in the white room for additional security checks. When waiting to be questioned we spoke with the other people in this room, they were of different nationalities and had been waiting up to 3 to 4 hours. When you are told to wait in this white room you are made to feel insignificant and untrustworthy. I personally felt as if I had done something wrong or was going to. I had a British passport like the majority of those on the same flight as me who all got through fine apart from us.

Shocked was quite the understatement as we were let through after 30 minutes. This was only after one of us was questioned about why we were here, who we worked for, whether they had authorized our leave, what our employers opinion was on us coming to volunteer, what our fathers and grandfathers name was and some family history.

Overall our experience at the airport was not the same as last time and could have been worse. Once through, we collected our luggage and got into a sheroot and headed off to Jerusalem where we planned to stay for the first few days with a friend and her family.