The past week or so was Eid el Adha, a Muslim holiday that honors the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael. The story goes that God commands Abraham to kill his son, and Abraham submits to God’s will—at the last minute, God intervenes and provides Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead. Eid el Adha is a celebration of Abraham’s readiness to give up everything for God, his submissive nature regarding the will of God is something to be emulated. Ok, religious history lesson over. We all had a few days off of work because of Eid so I traveled around Israel and Palestine with some Fulbrighters. I had never been to Israel before, and I was incredibly excited to see the Holy Land. On the list: Nazareth, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Tay Beh.
I don’t want to address anything political in this post. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is oft debated among the international community, written about in all kinds of news media, and has impacted the lives of thousands who live in what is known as the state of Israel. There are many online and print resources that address the topic, and countless places to read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—here is just a brief overview of Israel’s history that touches on some consequences of the UN’s vote to partition Palestine. All I can say is that there were places that felt like different worlds—namely spending Friday in Tel Aviv, then crossing over to Ramallah in the West Bank the next day. I saw some beautiful sights, and witnessed an incredible amount of diversity. There were moments I felt incredibly uncomfortable surrounded by Hebrew, a language I know nothing about (except the word ayykh, which means “what?”), and many others of slipping comfortably back into Arabic just in the span of a few hours. I spent entirely too much time trying to navigate hopping borders with our large group, but that was more than made up for by the abundance of delicious food and a slew of new inside jokes. Missed buses, good beer, interesting strangers, and lots of espresso accounted for the majority of our trip. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I’m happy for the opportunity to have seen something new and have heard even more stories.
Anyways, I’ll be sure to post many photos in the coming days and weeks; they can probably do more justice to this experience than my words ever could. That is, if I can regain any semblance of productivity. Vacations always do that to me—I mean, incapacitate any attempts to do work. The intention is there, just not always the follow-through. It’s like when you sit down to send some purposeful emails or research job opportunities only to find yourself 30 minutes later looking at wedding dresses with a spoonful of Nutella in hand. Gah, my life. But I certainly digress. Yalla, pictures to come soon!