Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ordinary people

So many of the international activists I met in the West Bank were there for two reasons: they had a commitment to justice and human rights and they had had a previous experience of Palestinian society - there is something about Palestinians and the way they live their lives which is very appealing. Who has ever been there and doesn't afterwards speak of Palestinians' hospitality, generosity and courage in the face of some of the worst injustice of our times?

Here are just a few of the acts of generosity which happened to me:

In the old city of Nablus my companion and I were vainly searching for a cafe which sold the famous kanaffa nablisi, that incomparable concoction based on goats' cheese and honey. Two passing men saw our predicament and showed us to "the best place". They sat with us while we ate and, before they left, told us of how they had spent 7 years and 12 years in Israeli jails for opposing the Occupation. When it came time to leave, we found that they had paid our bill.

The same thing happened in my share taxi from the Huwarra checkpoint into the city. The young bloke sitting next to me told me of how he had been forced to leave Nablus because of the economic stranglehold which the Israelis have imposed on his city and was now working in Amman. He got out before me and, when we arrived at my stop, the driver told me that my fare had been paid.

This sort of thing happened all the time; small acts of kindness. Like the tailor who sewed up my backpack and would accept no payment, and the shopkeeper who would add a slice of halva to my groceries, free of charge. I could go on and on. One soon learns not to admire someone's personal possession - like a watch, for instance - for fear that it will be offered, sincerely, as a gift.

So, forget the hype, forget the lies and misinformation. Go to Palestine and meet ordinary people who have not become embittered because the rest of the world has turned its back on their plight. They will show you friendliness and hospitality which will take your breathe away.

1 comment:

Mustafa Qadri said...

They're an amazing people, very inspiring. Great blog too, really sums up the reality on the ground as best as can be hoped in this medium. Keep it up mate.