Before reading the rest of this post please, please, please watch the above brief video to learn exactly what is happening in Palestine and Israel.
Today’s post is going to be a little different from the usual things I usually write. This time, I want to talk about what is happening in Palestine at the hands of Israel and the suffering, oppression and hardship that the Palestinian people face even in today’s modern world.
In January I went to the West Bank territory of Palestine just over the border from Jerusalem to the city of Bethlahem.
Now, before I start let me pose this question. When I say the name Bethlahem what do you think? Most would associate it with religion and being the birthplace of Jesus. I personally imagined it as this sort of small town with a manger and church where Jesus was born based on what I had read and heard about it growing up. For most people who visit they see this very modern central area of the city around the church which has been built in to a true tourist trap for the visitors who make a pilgrimage here. However this is not the real Bethlahem nor is it representative in any way of what is really going on here.
I took a public transit bus from Jerusalem in to the west bank arriving at the main bus stop in Bethlahem. Here I met a taxi driver named Mohammed who was born and raised in Bethlahem. Unlike the other taxi drivers who posed high prices and offered to take me around to the main tourist stops, Mohammed drew me in by offering to show me around the city and show me what was really happening in Palestine at the hands of the Israelis and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Let me tell you, its nothing like anything you ever see on the news and it is truly heartbreaking.
I’ve been to 53 countries at this point, gone full circle around the world, been to some of the most northern and southern reaches of our planet across every continent and I have to say what I was shown here in Palestine has to be the most heartbreaking and eye opening experience I’ve ever had. As sad as it is, it is amazing to see and hear that people here still have hope that things will change, will get better and one day they will be able to return home and leave this life behind.
Mohammed took me through the refugee camp in Palestine which was very sad to see the conditions that people live in with bullet holes lining the walls from the Israeli soldiers and conflicts that have happened. He then took me to the wall which was unbelievable. Yes, that’s right. In this day and age there is literally a wall separating and segregating these two different states. On one side Israel is thriving with money and modern infrastructure while on the other many people live in poverty, hardship, lack of even basic resources like running water in many cases and suppression at the hands of the IDF.
The saddest part of this experience was visiting the wall. Walking along the wall you see it covered in graffiti and stories from Palestinians depicting the life of horror and hardship that they have been subjected to. None of these stories are things you’ll ever see covered on the news or mainstream media and it truly is an eye opening experience. My words can’t do it justice so i’ll post the pictures below that I was able to take of just a handful of these stories.
While reading through the below you’ll see the word intifada used a lot which for those who do not know is an armed uprising by the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation of the west bank. Mohammed has lived through 5 of these conflicts during his short 35 year life.