Changing Stereotypes about Palestine: Before they visit, many people from the West in particular, may hold some negative stereotypes about Palestine and Palestinian people. In particular, due to the media focus on violent events that take place in Palestine, many people believe Palestine to be a dangerous and violent place, filled with terrorists. Stereotypes may play into wider negative assumptions about Muslims being violent or backwards. However, these stereotypes are far from the truth, and visiting an Arab country or simply talking to some Palestinians will quickly change your views.
Before he visited Palestine, Juri, a student from Germany, had only heard about Palestine in the context of unfortunate events in the media. He therefore associated Palestinians with “violence and terrorism”. Other students speak of the same fears, that Palestine would be too dangerous to visit, and that people’s lives there are filled with violence. While it is true that some violence does occur in Palestine, often because of the Israeli occupation, Palestinians mostly live very peaceful lives. Inge, a volunteer from Australia, found that when he visited Hebron life felt much safer than he had initially feared. Most visitors to Palestine have a safe trip, and in general daily life for Palestinians is not violent.
However, there are some stereotypes about Arab people and Palestinians that do ring true. For example, Palestinians tend to have very big families, and are very family orientated. Many Palestinian adults live with their parents until they get married, and often couples marry very young here. Palestinian society is also quite religiously conservative. Chris, a volunteer from Singapore, recommends that men and women dress modestly in Palestine, in order to respect local culture.
Another stereotype that has basis in fact is that Palestinian people are extremely hospitable and friendly to Westerners. Annabel, a volunteer from the UK, found that people in Hebron were extremely welcoming to foreign visitors, and Palestinians would be constantly offering her tea, coffee or food. Most visitors to Palestine will experience this stereotypical Palestinian hospitality while they are here.
Some stereotypes about Palestine need to be changed to fit with the realities of daily life there. Palestine is in general a very safe place to visit, and many people visit each year without experiencing any crime or violence. However, some stereotypes about Palestinians remain generally true – stereotypes about their hospitality, their culture of religious modesty, and the value they place on family.