Morning Diary: Moving from Nablus to the Occupied Territories – Palestine Israel | اليوم الثالث:زيارتي من نابلس الى المناصق المحتلا

April 22 2015

I couldn’t blog my last few days since I was caught up between moving from one place to another, lost my connection as I moved from the West Bank area (supposedly a free Palestinian area only you are a little locked in and have no rights to move out without the permission of the Israelis) to the 1948 occupied Palestinian areas (or to what most people refer to as Israel). So if you have a Palestinian line in the Palestinian territories, you can no longer use it in the occupied territories, and we are talking about areas that are only 10 minutes away from one another. Insane, but true.

But anyway, on my third day, I was lucky enough to have a local Nabulsi نابلسي young man to be my guide and show me around, and he showed me the wonders of Nablus. As the Samaritans السامريون told me there: “3 things you must do while in Nablus” 1- Eat Knafeh 2- Visit a Nabusli Soap Company مصنع صابون نابلسي and 3-Visit Mount Gerizim but I believe you should add 4- Have Mashawi BBQ 5- Walk the old city and 6- Visit Mount Ebal.

And truly, this is what I did, we went to one of the biggest Nabulsi Soap companies in Nablus “Al Jamal – Shakaa Company” and I promise you it is like going into Disney land, for it is a world of it’s own, and not just any world, a beautiful slippery one. I truly loved it from learning about the Olive Oil to how they mix with Water and very little baking soda, then they spread it in an indoor field, they leave it for about 4 months to dry, hand cut each one, hand stamp each one, and hand package each one. Amazing.

Then we went to have food, great Mashawi, made with the best spices, of-course this meal should be followed with a Knafeh the most amazing dessert in Palestine. As we finished we headed to the “Khan Al Wikaleh” old city where the oldest cinema is located and what is now known as where the Milano shoe shop is. We checked out the new project renovation that is just beautiful to visit. You will find Ancient Roman leftovers.

As we finished we headed towards the hilltop of Jirzeim where the Samaritans are located, and we went for a tour there where apparently they have a gate of their own and you sort of need permission to enter. As we were finished, time have passed us by and I had to rush back and leave Nablus to Tulkarem to meet with my friends from the 1948 occupied area.

I was there in no time, my friends from Nablus could no longer go further; they were not allowed in the occupied territories (into Israel). Since they are not occupied by the Israelis, they are locked in the West Bank. Therefore we had to wait for my Palestinian friends who have Israeli passports to come in and pick me up to cross the boarder.

I went in and started my journey inside the 1948 occupied territories. Again greeted by the warmest Palestinian families, they made me feel at home. The warmth they have in their hearts is remarkable. I was welcomed into 3 homes, listening to stories that break our hearts and eating food cooked by Palestinians. I had Fteret Zaatar and Wara Dawali.

Morning Diary: Visiting Nablus – Palestine | اليوم الثاني: زيارتي في نابلس

April 21 2015,

Today I packed my bags, and before moving to my next destination, I went to meet with an old Palestinian man, who sat with me and told me about his story with his house; that he lost, when he was a kid. The house that turned into a dream house, visiting the dream house that turned into a goal, and the visit that turned into an Israeli Palestinian one of a kind relationship. A relationship that started in search for peace, in search for a solution to the conflict, in search for a solution to return the houses that belong to Palestinians, in hopes that justice will take place for both parties. The story created heart-break, unjustified answers to open questions, but a new unpredictable light of hope. The house was turned into a nursery for Palestinian kids in the occupied territories “what many today like to call Israel”.

There is hope. I believe, to the Palestinian Israeli ongoing conflict. Even if it feels super complex, but I still feel there must be a way. I finished listening to the story and went on with my trip to Nablus, what is supposedly my hometown. A home I never lived in, visited only few times, although it is literally an hour and a half drive from Amman; “The city I live in today”. But since the occupation decided to make things complicated, I now need about 10 hours to get to what is supposed to be home.

I must admit that I felt home, the moment I walked into Ramalla, I felt home. I felt safe, I felt between my people, for once, I can say my people. Since where ever you go, there is always the question: Where are you from? And for the very first time, I have to stop thinking about the answer, and instead just say…. I am from Here. And in Nablus, I felt rooted, it is such a beautiful feeling to know that your ancestors existed here, walked on this same street you are probably walking on, when people ask about your name and they know who you are and who your grandfather and his grandfather is.

I had great lunch at relatives, great hospitality, beautiful energy, warm and welcoming. I then headed downtown, to the cold city, of the center of the city, where it was filled with shops between old houses and old buildings, all made of old stone and you can smell history in it. Friendly, warm and loving people.