I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
It’s easy to be cynical about claims that travel encourages tolerance and breaks down prejudice. It’s particularly easy in Palestine to be dubious about the idea that ‘sustainable tourism’ can help to bring about peace and justice in the face of military occupation and the constant threat of military closures or incursions. But sometimes it’s good to have your cynicism thrown back at you. Today I got an email back from a veteran Palestinian tour guide whose contact details I was confirming for the guidebook, and he had this to say:
[I hope your guidebook will] promote, attract and contribute to bridging, connecting and leading to more understanding between the cultures and human family. I lived this minute by minute while doing my duty as a tour guide and this feeling was very alive while walking in the mountains along Masar Ibrahim/Abraham’s Path or other trails with different groups from different backgrounds from all over the world. Walking side by side not face to face… walking shoulder touching the other shoulder, taking care of your group and your group as well. Sharing our snacks, water, memories, childhood stories, hopes, desires and dreams. Sharing a shade of an old olive tree in the stunning terraces… walking and talking. Then borders melted, the stereotype CHANGE…
I found that extremely moving. Sometimes it’s nice to have your scepticism defied.