The KTH Delegation spent Monday and Tuesday in the Northern region of Palestine, called Al-Galeel, or Galilee. They began their visit in Haifa, a beautiful city that hugs the Mediterranean coastline. Although Haifa is a formerly Palestinian city, it is now mixed, making it an interesting opportunity to learn about how Palestine has changed over the years. While there, the Delegation toured the Baha’i Gardens, a place sacred to the Baha’i faith, and visited the Stella Maris Monastery, offering them another opportunity to experience the various faiths that call Palestine home.
Afterward, the group traveled to Akka, the “citadel on the sea,” which helped them get a glimpse into Old Palestine. In Akka’s Old City, the Delegation visited the local souq (market) and Al Jizar Mosque which has watched over Akka for centuries. Later in the day, the Delegation visited small Palestinian villages (Kfar Yasif and Iqrit), meeting with their community leaders and learning about their particular histories and challenges.
On their second day in the North, the Delegation visited Nazareth and Jaffa. They toured the Old City in both, seeing markets and talking to Palestinians there. They quickly learned that Palestinians living in the North face different obstacles than their counterparts living in the West Bank. Instead of military occupation, people in the North deal with the threat of assimilation. Nevertheless, Palestinians living in Israel have thus far been able to keep their culture alive. One especially impactful experience was when the Delegates overheard an Israeli birthright tour, in which the tour guide was telling his tour group that Yaffa was nothing but sand before the Zionists build Tel Aviv. Although the Delegation was dismayed to witness firsthand Israel’s attempt to erase Palestinian culture, they were heartened by the Palestinian community’s resilience.