What do internationals notice when they are in Palestine? When you travel to any country other than your own you will notice that in most cases things are quite different from what you are used to in your home country. Distinctive or memorable things may stick in our minds from our international travels. These noticeable things may be associated with the landscape, culture, historical sites or the lifestyle of the people. Palestine has many such memorable aspects
According to the internationals who came to volunteer with us and visit Palestine, you may notice the following:
- Palestinians are very friendly
All of our international volunteers agree that Palestinians are friendly people. The way that foreigners are treated by the local population and the generosity showed to them by the locals makes our volunteers fall in love with Palestinians. Palestinians are raised on the philosophy that our guests must be taken care of, for example locals will often pay for their guests when they are in cafes or restaurants.
Additionally you may be invited for a cup of tea or coffee for free or by someone you just met. This does not at all mean that they want something from you or that they are offering this with a purpose but rather it is a way of welcoming foreigners and trying to make them feel comfortable. Due to your own culture you may feel that you must now do something in return but this is not the case. Palestinians are not waiting for you to even the board by repaying through something else, they are satisfied just with the knowledge that they are doing good deeds and welcoming foreigners.
- Palestine is small
The second thing you might notice is that Palestine is really a small country. In a week, you can visit all of Palestine, for example going from the south (Hebron) to the north (Jenin) is only three hours by car. Because off the occupation and the huge confiscation of Palestinian lands, Palestine can look tight and crowded.
- The currency of Palestine is the Israeli Shekel
You may wonder why in Palestine we use the Israeli Shekel as our currency, this is because Palestine is an occupied country. As set out in the Paris Agreement which tied the Palestinian economy to the Israeli economy, the Israeli Shekel is thus the accepted currency in daily Palestinian life. During the time of the British Mandate, Palestine used what was called the “Palestinian pound” and this currency was used into the 50s until Israel decided to replace it with the Israeli shekel. In addition to the Israeli shekel the American dollar and Jordanian dinar are also used but only to purchase things of high value such as houses or land.
- The Israeli checkpoints
The checkpoints may appear strange but nothing is strange when you are under occupation. The Israeli checkpoints are located between the Palestinian cities to keep an open eye on Palestinian resistance movements. In Palestinian, there are many checkpoints secured by guns, dogs and soldiers.
As a Palestinian, you have to slow your speed if you are in a car and turn off the car’s lights in the night. You might be asked to show your ID or even open the trunk of the car and submit to a search. For internationals, the existence of the checkpoints is not a problem at all where Israeli soldiers treat them nicely and friendly.
- The separation wall
Here we are talking about the wall been built by the Israeli authorities which they claim is for the security of Israel. However the building of the wall helped confiscate more Palestinian lands. The high of this wall exceeds eight meters which means it is double the size of Berlin wall. Upon the wall you will see a lot of graffiti covering the grey cement, additionally many of the artworks have been done by famous national and international artists.