Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 26, 2013: Birzeit, Taybeh and Nabi Saleh

Go Palestine Summer Camp started off the morning going to Birzeit University where we got a tour of the beautiful campus as well as learned about the effects of the occupation on the university. We learned that the Israeli military shut down the campus multiple times. At one point, the university was closed for a period of five years, in which teachers and students hosted classes in cars, homes, and outside the school itself. This was a nonviolent form of resistance that portrayed to both the Israeli government and the world that Palestinians have a right to education regardless of who claimed the land. Then we met with advocates of the Right to Education campaign who spoke of an academic boycott against Israel. The purpose of this boycott is to attack the structure of systemic oppression that has been built through Israeli universities because of their close relationship with the government. Doing this is another form of nonviolent resistance that is currently taking place in Palestine.

Afterwards, we went to the Beer Brewery in Taybeh to learn about the only Palestinian-made beer in the world and its success as a small business in an occupied Palestine. The Khoury family kindly gave us a tour of their factory, but don’t worry! No alcohol was involved!

We then went to Taybeh Zaman Restaurant where we had a delicious meal and played games with a gorgeous view of Taybeh and its surrounding villages. We also spoke with Father Jack who told us about the history of Taybeh and took us to an Orthodox Church that has been in existence since the Crusades.

Finally, we ended the day by visiting a small village called Nabi Saleh. The people of this village have nonviolent demonstrations every Friday to protest the illegal Israeli settlements that have gradually been taking away their land and their water. The entire village of 600 people only had approximately 8 hours of running water per week. They showed us the settlements on the surrounding hills, and young children told us their stories about standing up to the military, stating to them that “if America is on your side, then God is on ours.” The night ended with a homemade meal, games, singing, and laughing!

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