Visiting Palestine

‘What's your name?' the children shout in an excited manner. ‘Want to play football?'

Palestine is so welcoming.

On a tour through one of the villages, the people all shout ‘hello', smile and some even invite you in for dinner. This is a far cry from the West Bank that I have seen portrayed in the news.

Visiting Palestine

The cobbled walls of Palestine

Visiting Palestine

This little village is home to 3800 people, many of whom have faced prison for speaking up for their rights. Having the presence of volunteers here for the olive harvest each year eases the tension from the Israeli government and reduces the people's fear.

As we are shown around before we start our olive picking the following day I feel as though I have stepped back in time. Small stone houses stand before me with the most colourful array of doors I have ever seen.

These people live in peace and rely on their olive trees and agriculture to survive but their lives are constantly threatened and their olive trees are being taken away.

Visiting Palestine

The olive groves that are rapidly vanishing

They have lived this way for hundreds of years yet their mere existence is a threat to the Israeli authorities. A wall divides Palestine from Israel, and the Palestines need permission to leave.

Ironically Israelis are here to volunteer and help the Palestine families with their olive harvest as a sign of peace and respect for their community.

If this sentiment was echoed throughout the whole of the West Bank, this country would be a much more peaceful place.

I travelled to Palestine with SanghaSeva who offers “Meditation in Action” retreats in India, UK and Israel-Palestine.


Visiting Palestine

Picking the olives at harvest

Visiting Bethlehem

With December just around the corner, it seems appropriate to visit the Nativity town of the birthplace of baby Jesus. But my reality of this little town that I used to sing about in hymns at school is not what expected to see.

Bethlehem is actually part of the West Bank and lays beyond the wall that separates Palestine and Israel. The wall is covered in graffiti of messages of peace, and Israeli soldiers check each vehicle that enters.

Visiting Bethlehem

The wall that divides

O Little Town

People live here as they have done for hundreds of years but where is the Nativity scene? Where are the stables and the little donkey? A Palestine refugee camp sits within and people who are born here will probably never leave. Jerusalem is a walkable distance away but the people of Bethlehem need permission to enter the city.

Instead there are soldiers, refugee camps and hoards of tourists. My image has been shattered and all I can think is ‘Poor little town…'

Visiting Bethlehem

The Shepherds Field – now surrounded by buildings

Visiting Bethlehem

A painting on the wall

Visiting Bethlehem

Inside the church


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