So I am here on the other side. Although Ramallah probably is not really Palestine. It is Probably a bit like tel aviv: a world apart. But those worlds apart are also worlds, and they are real in their surrealness I walked to Damascus gate in Jerusalem carrying my backpack On my back, my lonely planet in my hands…. So when i was lost I was easily identified as someone not from here. I asked a few ladies where to take the bus and after a few questions i managed to get to the bus stop. “Are you going to Ramallah ?” enquired some people, and when I said yes they greeted me and wished me a good journey.
I greeted the people, and entered the minivan. I arrived in the check point and watched the wall. There in front of me finally. And when i crossed it i felt totally peaceful. The day was beautiful. I got out of the bus in the middle of a crowded street in Ramallah. People walked
everywhere. Some women wore veils, some did not. In common they were all willing to help me out find the communal taxi to jawal. I walked the street filled with happiness. So much people, so much life. When i could not find my way a young boy decided to walk me to the stop. It was just a normal corner. he stopped the communal orange taxi for me and wish me to be welcome in Palestine. In fact his first question was “where
are you from.” and being from brazil changes it all. He was about 13 and loved football and walked me there.
I arrived in my stop and was met by Ahmad my host. He was incredibly friendly. Spoke perfect English as he is among other things a speaker that goes around the world explaining about he conflict. He brought me back to his house. Here i met anas, whose bday we were celebrating and Lorenzo an Italian who works in a palestinian NGO.
I felt immediately at home, the very famous Palestinian hospitality does not even begin to describe it. All they had they offered me. I felt bad for not bringing things with me. They made me feel welcomed. We ate food they cooked. Then we talked and talked and talked till it was time to celebrate anas bday.
We were picked up by two friends and taken to a club. The club was on the last floor of a building and it was an absolutely fantastic place. It reminded me of a place in. Turkey. We ate drank, sang happy bday and danced. Two Swiss girls also couch surfers showed up. In their gap year young and cute. I sat in front of two palestinian who did not talk to me . I thought they did not speak English. Eventually when one found out i was Brazilian he turned out to be a graduate from Chicago uni. He told me he loved Brazilians because we laugh and we have joy. He wished here was like that. It became so clear to me how where you come from affects what people tell you or not. It was like not having any connection with a imperial or colonial powers would allow me to venture lands the other europeans around could not. They were all from the NGO one voice.
I tried to remain as neutral as i could and suddenly Ahmad opened up. “The violence is not the same Jules !” I did not ask anything. H blurted. He told me about being in his friend’s house. The Israelis coming, and hearing shots. He went down and saw his best friend on the floor. The soldier told him “if you want to survive step on your friends chest “he did not. His friend who laid agonising grabbed his foot and put in his chest. He said with a pause, With tears in his eyes. I was just mute. Why is it that people tell me it all? How can you think anything when you get so emotionally involved in both sides. My eyes filled with tears. So did his. I asked ” why your friend? What did they say to legitimise it?”. “Jules, they don’t have to legitimise they can do whatever they want to us.”
As he said that i thought of my friend Kosta who told me how the IDF is humane. How they don’t want to hurt anyone. How they are taught to respect people . I remembered the fear the jews feel, i felt the anger the Palestinians feel. I tried to say that. There are good people. Ahmad said “if they created an army here i wouldn’t join it. The premise of going on a battle is to think you can kill someone. This is just not acceptable.” I was quiet. I agree. I agree and I just can’t understand anything anymore. How can so many good people waste so many lives ….?
So as in tel aviv, we pushed the thoughts aside drank whatever we were drinking and dance the night away.