...about four dozen [Israelis]...made an unusual recent pilgrimage to Ramallah, one of several Palestinian cities that have been officially off-limits to most Israeli citizens for more than a decade...organized by the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information [from their FB: IPCRI - Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information shared a link.Wednesday Our Breaking Down Walls tour is featured in the New York Times!]...contacts between the two peoples have dwindled. Fewer Palestinians work inside Israel. Dialogue groups have broken up. Camps connecting children are harder to find. The communities increasingly function as if in alternate universes.
...“Israelis crave to meet Palestinians and to go to the West Bank,” said Goldie Orlan, who is managing the project, which also takes Israelis to Jericho and Bethlehem. “They just want to walk the streets and talk to normal people about their daily lives.”
But they had to settle for walking through a sales center at Rawabi, a city-to-be of high-rises and homeowners’ associations being erected in the empty hills. As for talking, it was mostly to their guide, Husam Jubran, whose liberal mix of opinion with fact led some to describe it as a “propaganda tour.”
...For $50 each, the visitors got the sales pitch at Rawabi; a photo op at Mr. Arafat’s tomb; time in a new museum honoring the poet Mahmoud Darwish; lunch at a local hummuseria; a stop at a troubled neighborhood surrounded by the separation barrier; and a bus ride through bustling Manara Square, led and followed by Palestinian security vehicles...What they did not get is to meet Palestinians. At Samer Restaurant, the group was shuttled upstairs to waiting plates of falafel, pickles and spreads. The regulars stayed downstairs, and the men bringing refills and pouring thimbles of coffee did not engage them. When David Groman, 75, asked if he might go into some nearby shops — “I just wanted to look at the goods. I wanted to see the price levels, see how people live,” he said later — he was told no way...At the Darwish museum, Smadar Tsaban, 59, thought it “a pity” that the Hebrew translations of the poet’s work were not among the eight languages on display.
...Ms. Orlan of the Israel Palestine Center acknowledged the limitations of viewing a society mainly through bus windows. But, she said, it is better than not going at all...Most Palestinians live in Area A, where Israelis have not been allowed to go since October 2000, after the mob killing of two reserve soldiers at a Ramallah police station. It comprises 13 percent of the West Bank and is under full Palestinian control.
At one point, Mr. Jubran asked the driver to pull off the road for a closer view of one of the red signs marking the city’s borders. “The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden,” it said. “Dangerous to your lives. And is against the Israeli law.”...
Can we organize a bus tour for Jodi to the Jewish communities in Areas B and C?
Will she come?
Oh and that no-go zone. That wouldn't be a form of apartheid, would it?