Less than a week after leaving Ramallah I am already missing Palestine. The experience was not quite as I imagined it would be, but in many ways, it was better. There are no words to quite capture exactly how much I learned, experienced and came to cherish during my time in the West Bank this summer. What I did learn, however, is that life is often more complicated that we could ever imagine and more simple that we could ever give it credit it for. This is one of many contradictions I came across these past few months in Ramallah, a land that seemed to be filled with contradictions.
More than just contradictions though, this summer was not only about learning the challenges and struggles that others faced, it also called for a heavy dose of introspection into my role as both an observer and as an Iranian-American woman living and working in the West Bank. My time in Ramallah challenged me to question my own preconceived notions about the conflict, the people and the culture I chose to become a part of for a few months over the summer. As a die-hard idealist, I was presented with the possibility that a peace where everyone could walk away happy might not be possible, not because the will does not exist, but because peace is and continues to be defined in more ways than one could possibly fathom, because peace looks different to each person sitting at the negotiating table and because sometimes we cannot erase damage that has already been done. Nevertheless, as my conflict resolution professor always says, where there is conflict, there is opportunity.
My conclusion after spending the summer in the West Bank is not that peace is not achievable, quite the contrary in fact. And while the peace that many of us “idealists” hoped would be possible may not necessarily be an option any longer, I continue to believe that peace is still attainable – that the Palestinian people along with their international and even Israeli allies will continue to advocate until they can guarantee that their children won’t be born and restricted to living in refugee camps, that they will someday be able to visit family and friends in Jerusalem without a permit, that they will no longer fear the settlers occupying their neighborhoods and that one day the world will recognize the strength and resilience of the Palestinian people not because they view them as victims, but because they view them as pillars of perseverance.
The main objective of this summer was to help tell the story of the individuals I encountered so that the world would be able to have a better sense of what is really happening so far away from the “bubble” that so many of us live in – and if even one person can walk away after reading these blogs and feel as though such enlightenment has occurred on some level, I will know the most important work has been done.
I leave you now with a small glimpse into one of my most favorite aspects of being in Ramallah: the call to prayer, which is recited on a loud speaker five times a day in line with Islamic tradition. The video is shot from outside of my apartment in Ramallah.
Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh
Posted Sep 1st, 2009