September 30, 2014
My Trip To Israel/Palestine
“Excuse me sir, would you mind changing your seat with this lady?” Those were the words that came out of the Israeli officers mouth and I, without hesitation, agreed to his demand. At first I thought that the lady needed more space or something that my seat could provide for her, but as they took me to her original seat, that everyone looked relatively like me. They had thick beards, big noses, and many other Palestinian traits, just like me. As I sat there, I thought to myself, that it was just a coincidence that I was amongst only Palestinians; moreover, we were flying into a country with a significant amount of Palestinians.
Once we landed in Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, I could instantly feel waves of that sweltering afternoon heat. It was like I just had walked into the gates of hell. By this time I had already forgotten about the event in the plane, nevertheless, it was far from over. As we walked to passport control, a beautiful-blue eyed-blond Jewish girl asked for our passports. She quickly went through the passports of my uncle, aunt, and cousin. But when she got to mine, I had never seen someone so dumbfounded. She saw my name and realized I had last names with Jewish and Palestinian decent. Without thinking it twice she called her supervisor, a well-built man so tall that no one could se his kippha, a small hemispherical cap, worn by Jews to fulfill the customary requirement held by some orthodox halachic authorities that the head be covered at all times. But lets get back to the two Jewish officers, whom ironically had Arian like traits. As the supervisor analyzed my passport he grilled me with questions, such as, “What is the purpose of your trip? Where are you staying? Why do you have Jewish and Palestinian last names?” After twenty minutes of questioning I was finally let me go and I was ready to start my Middle Eastern experience.
Once I exited the airport in a Mercedes Benz taxi, which are visible all over Israel as taxis, I read off a huge banner “ברוכים הבאים לישראל", which means, "Welcome to Israel". Before we were in the city, my uncle explained to me that I was moved from my seat because they saw that I had Palestinian traits and thirty minutes before the plane lands they move everyone they consider a threat to the back. My uncle would be a translator for us. He was born and raised in Nazareth and he invited me along with his wife and my older cousin to stay in the house where he grew up.
As we drove through a country home to more than six million Jews and almost two million Arabs, I was amazed with what I saw surrounding me. Every ten minutes a little community would come up, whether it was a small Muslim communities or a Jewish kibbutz. The Muslim communities were breathtaking, my uncle explained to me that families would build their houses on top of the other, so that they could have strong family ties and always be in communication. As analyzed the community I noticed that every one of them they had many tall and sleek towers. My uncle explained to me that those are called minaret, they provide a visual focal point and are used for the call to prayer. The other communities I saw were Jewish kibbutzim, as I mentioned above. These are more private communities that do all the work inside, they have jobs, hospitals, restaurants and other important things for the well being community. I thought to myself, “Wow, the Middle East is not as bad as the news depicts it.” I had no idea what was coming up down the road.
Suddenly I watched something that took my breath away and left me in awe, but not in a good way. My uncle asked the driver to slow down so we could watch a never ending, grey, and prison like barrier. The Jewish government built a monotonous grey prison like barrier that surrounded the entire West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with an extremely restricted access to the rest of the country. It