Visiting the Holy Land is more than a vacation, a journey, or a pilgrimage. For many, it is a profoundly moving experience. It can be a turning point in people’s lives as they experience Palestinian society and culture and see for themselves the impact of the occupation. No matter what your beliefs or faith may be, no matter what your politics are, no matter if you are a seasoned traveller or have never left the place you call home, everyone can find some purpose and meaning in a journey to the Holy Land. Here are six great reasons to come to Palestine!
- You will see first-hand how the occupation is conducted and learn how it is impacting on the daily lives of the people and the future of Palestine.
There’s only so much you can learn and understand by watching the 6 o’clock news or even reading history books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is why fact-finding missions to the Middle East are so important and frequently described by our clients and visitors as ‘life-changing’. By visiting the region and participating in our programmes you will learn a tremendous amount about the structure and implementation of the occupation, how it has evolved and developed in a manner which affects every aspect of the lives of Palestinians. You will have the opportunity to meet with Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers: people who have devoted their lives to bringing peace with justice to the Holy Land and all its peoples.
- You will serve as a witness to the situation that is occupation.
Palestinians who have suffered through more than sixty years of occupation often feel that the world has abandoned them, that they are invisible. As more and more of their land is confiscated by the settler movement supported by the Israeli military and government; as more of their homes are demolished, olive fields destroyed, wells sucked dry and polluted; and more people, many of whom are children, are maimed and killed, Palestinians wonder, ‘Why is no one standing up for us in the international community? Why does no one hold Israel to account for its continued violations of international law, ignoring UN resolutions, one after the other?’ Fearing these questions fall on deaf ears, Palestinians are cheered by the presence of international witnesses observing the peaceful efforts Palestinians engage in daily to simply ‘exist’ on their land, in their homes and with their families. They welcome internationals who are interested and willing to live among, and learn from them. Your presence reminds them that there are people in the international community who believe that Palestinians should be able to live in peace, with security, dignity and independence. Your presence helps bring a small degree of hope to their lives - lives experiencing a situation that has caused and continues to cause an enormous amount of suffering.
- You will support the Palestinian economy.
Boarder closures and checkpoints halt or slow business and trade. Palestinians denied access to their lands and its resources, often confiscated by Israeli businesses supported by their government and the military, have experienced the crippling of their economy and diminishing prospects for prosperity and employment, particularly for their young. Those Palestinians who rely on tourism, such as hotel owners, restaurants, gift shop owners, craft makers, artisans, and tour guides, have also been hard hit. Your trip might not be a lavish or expensive one, but it will bring much needed funds into Palestine.
- You can learn or improve your Arabic in an Arabic-speaking country.
It is difficult to learn and master a foreign language without access to native speakers. The best way to learn Arabic is to immerse yourself in an Arabic-speaking culture and practice the Arabic skills you learn outside of the classroom. You will find Palestinians are eager to share their language and, many, to practice their English, German, French and Italian with visitors from all over the world.
- You will gain essential knowledge and skills as a volunteer.
As a volunteer in Palestine, you can develop valuable skills and gain knowledge in a range of areas such as community development, rural agriculture, development of human and civil rights, community and individual empowerment, building cross culture understanding and communication, to name few. Volunteering in Palestine will make a great addition to your resume!
- The food is excellent!
Seriously, if you’re not already familiar with Arabic cooking, then you are in for a treat. Some suggestions include: Mtabbal, an aubergine dip; Maqluba, the famous ‘upside down’ dish; Malfouf, stuffed vine leaves; Fattoush, Arabic Salad full of fresh vegetables; or Zahra Bi Tahineh, cauliflower with Tahini. The Arabic-speaking world is famous for its great cuisine and its unparalleled hospitality!