15 Students from Different Moroccan Cities,
15 Days in the Holy Land,
What a Remarkable Experience!
When we first arrived to Jerusalem, we heard a couple of gun shots, each one of us looked at the other in shock and wonder of what’s going on, believing that this is a country of conflict and war, we were not comfortable. We soon learned that the gun shots were a sign of a wedding and celebration. That was our first cleansing from a deeply rooted prejudice that there is war everywhere in the country. The days to come in the Holy Land served to educate, enlighten and correct our mind sets, and our presence there helped us mainly to have our own story.
It is a story that is based on direct contact with different people, on visits to many cities and places and on a cultural experience. We always asked questions, which was our means to learn and understand, and then we would study the answers. We met different locals: taxi drivers, security guards, shop keepers, bus drivers; both Palestinians and Israelis. We also met Palestinian and Israeli authorities. We visited different cities which have different aspects: the Holy City, Jerusalem; the city of Jewish and Arab neighbors, Haifa; the liberal cosmopolitan city, Tel Aviv; the city with a large Moroccan community, Ashdod; a city in the Palestinian territories, Ramallah, in addition to Galilee, Jaffa, Nazareth, Beersheva, and the Dead Sea. This tour around the country furnished us with a varied and complex point of view of Israel/ Palestine.
The people, be they Jews or Arabs were happy and quite amazed to meet with a group from Morocco in Israel/ Palestine. They also had a lot of questions for us, others were trying to find a link to Morocco; “My grandfather comes from Morocco,” “My cousin visited Morocco,” “Someone I know married a Moroccan,” etc. Some of them even made an enormous effort to speak the Moroccan dialect with us.
I believe that our visit has drawn a smile on many faces, it has enriched an understanding of who were considered the “Other,” it is a huge step to bridge gaps, to communicate, and to simply know each other. If you call it normalization, I call it education.