By Fra Hughes
Having just spent two weeks in that sad and beautiful land known as Palestine having traversed from Bethlehem to Nablus From Ramallah to Hebron and of course Al Quds (Jerusalem) i finally found myself in Tel Aviv in a backpackers for a few days prior to departing Ben-Gurion Airport .
And what an unforgettable two nights three days they were! Was it the weather which was horrendous or the welcome at the hostel?
We arrived windswept and interesting having been caught in torrential rain flash floods thunder lightning and more as we sloshed are way through the empty streets to our destination. Lost in Tel Aviv with very few English speaking natives it was a bit of a nightmare however once we found the backpackers on the first floor of what on the outside looked like a disused building which we initially walked passed I was happy to see a clean room and a warm dry bed,
On arrival we had met the owner and some of the employed staff and checked in.Then we heard about the volunteers? Owning a running a small business as I do I was intrigued .Who were these volunteers?
Well two uncomfortable evenings later i was fully aware of all the volunteers and their role in the hostel.
It appears as many of you may already know that anyone of Jewish origin anywhere in the world is welcome to come and live in Israel/Occupied Palestine but of course the 6-8 million Palestinian refugees living in exile in Jordan Egypt Syria Lebanon South America etc. the Arab diaspora are not allowed to return even though this is enshrined in the United Nations Resolution 194 Right of Return Guaranteed to displaced Palestinian Refugees.
So peoples of the Jewish faith who have not lived in the Middle East can go and live there and those who can trace their families back 1000 years in Palestine cannot!
Well back to the volunteers. Two excruciating days of minding our ps and qs.
These volunteers mainly young Jewish Americans Canadians Russians and Poles live in Israel free staying at the hostel and I presume all the other Hostels in Israel. They are subsidised by the Israel Government to the tune of 1000 Schecles a month and in return work a few days or a few hours each week on a farm in a restaurant or some such place.
My issue? If you’re Jewish or Zionist or Christian Zionist and support Israel then it’s a love feast in the hostel. The volunteers whose job appears to love bomb the foreign nationals steer control and manipulate the conversation to the Israeli narrative over and over and over again.
If however your none of the above a neutral non-political or god forbid you may have sympathy or empathy for the indigenous population of Palestine then better watch what you say as ridicule disrespect and derision in equal measure will come your way.
Tel Aviv? A closed insular society trying very hard to be European playing sixties music in the bars and restaurants more west bank of the Seine than West bank occupation.
I for one won’t be back. Tourist friendly? It wasn’t in my experience .The volunteers one of whom although born raised and educated in America was waiting to join the Israeli Defence Force I nearly asked him shouldn’t he be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan for his native country?
Propaganda and half-truths were the order of the day by these right wing Zionist also rans.
Fore go the cross examinations in Tel Aviv and go straight to Palestine.
Next time i think i will just stay in Al Quds. Inshallah.