Time for Palestine: A Tourist Program with Palestinians

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 The following letter of the Arab Educational Institute and Palestine Link (an organization of Palestinians in the Netherlands) is addressed to travel organizations and accompaniers of traveling groups. The proposed Palestinian visitor program will be focused on common Palestinians and the context in which they live.

 


Bethlehem and Gouda, February 2016


Dear reader,

On behalf of Palestine Link (Netherlands) and the Arab Educational Institute (AEI, Bethlehem) we would like to offer you a suggestion to any plans you may have in organizing, or accompanying, a future traveling program to Israel/Palestine or the Holy Land.

 Palestinian daily life is a rather obvious  focus for tourists when visiting Palestine, also in the light of the present-day attention the tourism sector gives to the need for authentic tourist experiences. However, as we all know, it all too often happens that visitor programs do not pay attention to the people of Palestine – for practical or other reasons. From our side, we find it important that the Palestinian population is clearly present in any tourist program.

 In a variation of Dutch author Joris Luyendijk’s comment on western media coverage of Palestine and the Arab world, “They’re just like people,” we say, “They are real people.” We wish to focus our Palestinian visitor program on common Palestinians and the context in which they live.

 

What is the program about?

Two elements especially: the deep-seated problems and challenges which Palestinians face and the cultural wealth of Palestine.

We let common people tell their stories about the challenges they face. How they have to be incredibly resilient despite the restrictive influences around them. Palestine Link and AEI in Bethlehem presently work together on the establishment of a “Wall Information Center” in the Sumud Story House in Bethlehem (*). From May 2016 on you will be able to hear there more about the impact of the Wall and occupation on Palestinian life.

We also wish to show the cultural richness of Palestine and Palestinians (which in its turn is a source of their resilience or sumud). We do not speak about Culture with a capital C. Rather, think about the popular culture which one discovers in eating habits, clothes, handicrafts, embroidery patterns, healthy herbs, inter-religious customs and stories, and the rhythm of life in the countryside. Women play an extraordinary important role in the culture of life. This culture offers a view into the roots and dignity of the Palestinian people, also in relation to the many special and historical places among which Palestinians happen to live.

 

What do we offer?

This is what you can expect: a people-directed, flexible and payable tourist program, with guides, facilitators and translators.

First option: a week-long program in which culture and strength of Palestinians is shown in many different contexts – in the Galilee, in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus and Jericho; in refugee camps, villages and the desert.

Second option: a two- or three-day stay with Bethlehem as base. Small groups can register for thematic day-long programs which are presented directly by people out of their own home or neighborhood.

Third option: Tourists and visitors can visit the Wall Information Center, encounter there our helpful volunteers and take a walk along the Wall.

Of course we keep ourselves informed about the security situation. The safety of visitors is a priority. However, that does not mean that whole regions are automatically declared inaccessible.

Do you wish to learn more, without any obligation? Do not hesitate to submit your questions and write us on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  with cc to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Rania Murra                                                              Ghada Zeidan

Director Arab Educational Institute                       Director Palestine Link

 

AEI: www.aeicenter.org    

(*) The Wall Information Center is made possible by NAP 1325 Pilot Funds, Small Projects (Netherlands).


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