Written by Ali Dahmash
The recent ads that appeared in the local papers to visit the Holly Sites in Jerusalem have made the committee of anti–normalization in Jordan concerned, calling for boycotting such visits. The committee announced that visiting religious sites under the spears of the occupation is a true normalization with Israel. The Travel agent defended by saying that this is art of Religious Tourism.
I do not agree with the anti–normalization committee. I have traveled to Israel & the West Bank with this travel agent. And if it wasn’t for them, I would have never dreamed of visiting my country and my home town. My mom would have never visited the place she left 61 years ago. The most important thing about this trip, and I do salute the Jordanian Travel agent for doing that, is that our accommodation(hotel) , the restaurants we ate at, the tour guide, the road rest stops we used, were all owned by Arabs (either Israeli Arab or from the West Bank). We have not spent a penny on the Israelis. In this trip we rented a Palestinian cab driver who took us around the country, we ate in an Arab restaurant in Jaffa, we bought stuff from merchants in Ramallah & Arab East Jerusalem. We might have been a small group of 22 people but imagine our impact if we were able to visit in hundreds and maybe thousands. Most of the group considered this to be a religious trip as well, since they spent a few days in the Holy Sites praying.
Palestinians in the occupied territories feel abandoned by the Arabs and are actually alone in facing the Israeli military occupation. And despite the rough economical situation, the check points and the embargo on the Palestinians, we were able to spend our money on them and providing support for their businesses and economy. In the weekends, Arab Israelis send buses loaded with people who do their shopping and business from Palestinians in the West Bank, a successful attempt of survival and resisting this occupation.
Let’s put an end with spending our money & time on empty political banners and slogans that will not help any Palestinian family. As a matter of fact I urge every Jordanian and Arab who holds a foreign passport to travel to Palestine and give support with all possible means, and save the visit to Sharm El Shiekh & Turkey during the holidays for next season.