By Saliba. A,
A sense of anxiousness and excitement lingered in the air as we departed from Jordan to Palestine.
A group of 30 Palestinians, descendants of our ancestors who were forced out of our homeland, were about to be rejoined with their roots. It was natural to feel a common sense of nervousness but also a blessing and excitement to be reunited with our homeland.
It was a short 1 hour drive and we would reach the border of Palestine. As we reached the first security check, where passports are verified and luggage is screened, we could see hundreds of Palestinians crowded together waiting in line to get through. Once we got to our turn, the reality dawned upon the group, this will not be a short stop. Once we got through baggage claim and security checks, we stood in line to get out visas on arrival, which should’ve ideally been a quick 10-minute process. However, we were met with a series of questions about our immediate family and our background. Many of us had our passports taken, were handed a piece of paper to fill out and asked to wait in the waiting area.
Being a first generation Palestinian, I did expect a bit of hardship from the Israelis, but I never expected the delegates of 3rd and 4th generation Palestinians to encounter the same. Quickly, we learned that it did not matter how far back our ancestors left, we were not welcome.
It felt as though the security officers’ job was not to let people in, but to humiliate and degrade Palestinians. We all sat in the waiting area for almost 2 hours before we were all allowed through. Finally, we were granted access to our homeland by a foreign entity.
From the start of the journey, nothing was smooth. Who would want to go through this process? Was it even worth going home? Clearly, that was the intention – to make us too uncomfortable to avoid coming back.
Once we were on Palestinian land, “Welcome to Palestine” graced our ears and the group burst out into cheers. The scenery was instantly beautiful. The first city we visited was Jericho, where we were warmly greeted by the governor. He gave an empowering speech and reaffirmed our visit to the homeland, while also emphasizing the important role we carry as Palestinians in the diaspora.
The challenges we faced at the border were now irrelevant, we are home.