Day 12 – Our Last Day in Historical Palestine

By: Zena A.

On the twelfth day of our KTH journey, we spent the day in Nazareth & Yaffa. The first place we went in the morning was the Catholic Church of Annunciation. We had walked to the church from the hotel, and that allowed us to see a bit of Nazareth from the streets and walkways.

After spending some time in the Church of Annunciation, I went with a third group to St. Joseph’s Church which happened to be in the same complex as the Catholic Church of Annunciation. Both churches were very nice inside, and they had a lot of really rich history that we were able to read about on the site. Being there in real life allowed us to feel a more divine presence than to have had these experiences through stories or pictures, the way many of us were used to hearing about Palestine before.

After some time, we departed for Yafa. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a man named Sami Abu Shehadeh, an Arab Israeli citizen and a member of the Knesset, the Legislative branch of the Israeli government. After hearing him speak for the first 10 minutes, I realized that this would be the most interesting presentation we’d had on the entire trip. Sami Abu Shehadeh did not talk about the political aspect of Palestine; he didn’t even talk about his own experiences. He told us the tale of Yafa as a city before the occupation and how Yafa was Palestine’s most rapidly developing city in many aspects, from farming to trade and transportation internally and externally. This rapid modernization made Palestine a very important trading center in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, this rapid modernization of Yafa is what attracted the Zionist movement to immigrate to Palestine and invent their city, now known as Tel-Aviv.

Everyone who heard his presentation could’ve spent the entire day listening to him tell us more about Palestine’s history, we were all so intrigued and interested.

During our time in Yafa, we stopped by a knafeh and ice cream place that is well-known in the city. Our time in Historical Palestine was bittersweet – we expected to see historic land but were disappointed to see much of the city has been gentrified, leaving little to no trace of where our grandparents lived once upon a time.

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