Today we would head back to Bethlehem for a farewell party, but not before driving through Tel Aviv and a short tour of Jaffa. Tel Aviv is like another world. The beaches are unbelievable, the people are so relaxed and going about their lives as if they were in LA, and the roads and buildings are modern and very well kept.
Jaffa, located right next to Tel Aviv, was once a very vital city of Palestine, up until 1948 when Israel was officially created. Its ports were extremely important in the past, but now it’s a dead city. A lot of the buildings remain to be as they were over 60 years ago, and Israel is just waiting to tear them down and build newer buildings without the Arab inscriptions and Quranic writings over the doorways. One of the delegates, and our friend, has family who comes from Jaffa and the tour guide stopped the bus near what used to be their house. She had a black and white photo of what it used to look like but now it is home to Israeli families. It has been changed into a garage and apartments and although you can tell that the two buildings are one and the same, that building is no longer her grandfather’s home. She knocked on the door, but no one answered.
A few hours later, we arrived in Bethlehem. We did any last minute shopping that we needed to do and got ready for our farewell party, as well as the first dinner of Ramadan. Today marks the first day of a 30-day period when Muslims all around the world fast from sunup to sunset. Not only do Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, or chewing gum during the day, but it is also a time to reflect on their lives, as well as think about morals, the way they act, and what they hope to improve within themselves. All of the Muslims on the trip, including myself, were hoping to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer, but unfortunately we’d have to leave that for another visit to Palestine.
We broke our fast together, and enjoyed our last night together with music. We also finalized a project with Aida Refugee Camp; look for a photo exhibition coming your way this upcoming year.
We go our separate ways tomorrow morning, it has been an unbelievable journey and I know we can all agree that we have gotten to know our heritage and feel that Palestine will always be our home!