Misconceptions about Traveling to the West Bank: If you listen to Western media sources, you will frequently hear about the danger of traveling to the West Bank. However, we advise for you to not listen to everything to hear or read. There are many misconceptions and inaccurate stereotypes swirling around about the safety of internationals traveling in the West Bank. Unlike what you may hear on television or read in the paper, Palestinians are exceptionally warm and friendly people. Of course, no place you travel around the world can guarantee complete safety. However, volunteers and students at the Excellence Center have reported over and over again how comfortable they feel while traveling throughout the West Bank.
Maybe you are concerned about your safety in Palestine or maybe your parents are concerned about your safety while aboard. If there is anything that holds people back from visiting Palestine, it is this concern for their personal safety. The first misconception people have about the West Bank is that the area is filled with violence. There are clashes that can occur in the West Bank, but they are fairly contained. It is highly unlikely that you will experience any violence in the West Bank. There are certain areas that are more prone to political clashes, but if you avoid those areas, you have no reason to worry.
The second misconception about traveling to the West Bank is that Palestinians are hostile people. Again, we advise that you do not believe everything you hear through the media. Palestinian culture is known for its remarkable hospitality and generosity. Our volunteers, students, and interns have been shocked by how welcome they feel in Palestine. In the markets, in the shops, in the homes, in the taxis, you will not be able to escape the “ahlan wa sahlans” from passersby. Foreigners are very welcome in Palestine and Palestinians enjoy conversing with internationals. If you get stopped and asked where you are from, why you are here, even if you are married (women, you will get this a lot), do not be alarmed. These types of questions come from a genuine desire to get to know you. In Palestine, you may also be invited to someone’s house for tea and coffee or dinner, even someone you just met. This may seem out of the norm for you, depending on your cultural upbringing, but this is very typical in Palestine. All this to say, Palestinians are the opposite of hostile and cold. There is a beautiful warmth about Palestinians that our volunteers, interns, and Arabic students fall in love with.
Maybe you have been doing research online and have only found negative things about the West Bank. Remember that the narrative told by media sources is controlled and therefore one-sided. There is always more to the story and in this case, another story, that is left untold. To counter the narrative, we invite you to come to Palestine for yourself and experience the lovely scenery with the lovely people who call this land home. You will be surprised by how “at home” you will feel here.