The Wierdest Things You’ll See in Palestine: Weird probably isn’t the politically correct term. What’s weird in one culture is completely normal in another. Many people would think that American hotdogs are disgusting. Palestinians certainly think Americans tendency to eat pork is weird. However, terminology aside, we thought we’d share some unusual sights that our volunteers may see while traveling in Palestine.
The old stereotype of Arabs affection for camels is tired and untrue. You’d be hard pressed to find a camel in Hebron, goats, sheep, and chickens are a more common sight. The only live camel you’re likely to see is on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where the tourists flock for a group photograph. However, there is a butcher shop on the road out of Hebron which the volunteers often stop at the start of road trips. Whenever the volunteers have visited, the carcass of a camel has been hanging on a meat hook near the door. The butcher said that they sell the meat by the kilo or grind it into sausages. Camel is an expensive meat, so it’s fairly rare, but seeing a camel hanging partially skinned is certainly a site most foreigners will not forget.
Soldiers Dancing to Ke$ha
In 2010, an amateur video of IDF soldiers on patrol in Hebron dancing flash mob style to Ke$ha’s Tik Tok, went viral online. The dancing was choreographed and clearly planned, but the site of Israeli soldiers in full combat gear dancing to a pop song was certainly unusual. The fact that they were in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, and started dancing right after the call to prayer, offended many Palestinians however.
Donald Trump Hugging a Wall
The Separation Wall in Bethlehem, which runs roughly along the pre-1967 Israeli-Palestinian border, is the site of frequent pilgrimages by street artists around the world. The barrier, which was erected for the stated purpose of stemming the rising number of terrorist attacks against Israelis, is heavily criticized by the artists, who use their work to promote pro-peace messages. A recent addition to the wall are two large murals of U.S. President Donald Trump. In one, President Trump is hugging a guard tower surrounded by cartoon hearts. In the other, Trump dons a yamaka and touches the wall, thinking to himself, “I’m going to build you a brother.”
A Titanic Ice Cream Cart
Recently a group of volunteers took a tour of the Fawwar refugee camp. The camp is incredibly crowded and poverty is rampant. Nevertheless, one entrepreneurial man came up with a plan to sell ice cream. Since he didn’t have the money for a traditional ice cream truck, or indeed the room to drive one down the alleyways, he took a grocery cart and put his ice cream and cones inside. For music however, he took a portable stereo and blared an electronic instrumental version of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On from the movie Titanic.
I Heart Leo Keychains
Speaking of Titanic, the Old City of Jerusalem has retained odd bits of American culture and stashed them away to collect dust. In one stall near the Jaffa Gate, there are boxes of odd bits of Americana from the 1990s. Key chains, released shortly after the release of Titanic, hold pictures of a young Leonardo DiCaprio with a heart frame. CDs and cassettes from 90s and early 00s with music from hip hop artists like Ludacris and 2Pac can also be found. For sports memorabilia, there is a stall further down the alley called the “Alabama Shop” which sells Crimson Tide paraphernalia, in addition to the crucifixes and holy oil that you can find elsewhere.
The more time you spend in Palestine, the more visual treasures you will find and unique memories you will create. While everyone talks about the big sites like the Dome of the Rock and the Dead Sea, it may be the smaller, more unusual things that you truly remember.