Leila Khaled became an icon of Palestinian resistance. She was also the first female hijacker. They never set out to hurt anyone- their main goal was to bring awareness to Palestine. In her words- “When we hijacked the planes the whole world wondered who we were. Regardless of what they thought about it, they wondered. But when we were tortured in lsraeli prisons, who heard our screams? We had to do what we did in order to get your attention.”
A famous image of her is a smiling beautiful young woman with a ring that she made from a bullet and a grenade pin casually holding an AK-47 rifle. Within a year, she underwent six cosmetic surgeries to distort her face so she wouldn’t be recognized during her second hijacking.
To this day she considers herself a freedom fighter who says she would die for the cause but she hopes that someday soon, “A democratic solution, a human solution” will be reached.
Whoa- there is such a stark contrast between Israel and Palestine. Palestine appears poor and third worldish, while Israel seems ultra modern and wealthy.
We drove through two of the refugee camps on the way to Bethlehem. What I loved most about the experience was the graffiti – it is fascinating. Some time last year after we had watched a few documentaries on different art forms- I asked Maddux what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied “a graffiti artist.” This is certainly the place to go to gather inspiration! The art is beautiful and haunting- I loved how the graffiti (for the most part) was positive and hopeful. We could have spent a few hours there- it’s like a huge museum spread out on vast concrete canvases.
There is a more famous one that I got a quick picture of as we were driving by. It was done by an artist named Banksy and it is of a little girl patting down a soldier. Because of “security risks” it is extremely difficult for people from certain ethnic groups to travel in certain areas. We got through checkpoints relatively easily by showing our US passports. They obviously know we are tourists and aren’t going to stir up any problems in regions that are oftentimes portrayed as being extremely volatile. I don’t think many tourists roll through Palestine- but when we did, we didn’t feel threatened or scared in the least. It is one of my top five experiences of our adventure and I would encourage others to go there.
I did not want to screw up this information, so I quoted from a global policy forum website:
“At the heart of the Israel/Palestine conflict lies the question of land and who rules it. The collision of Jewish nationalist colonisation and Palestian nationalism, both laying claim to the same territory, forms the basis of this long conflict, deepened by the tragedies of the Holocaust and of the dispossession and occupation of Palestine. The United Nations partition of the land in 1947, an effort to resolve the two claims simultaneously, did not result in a lasting settlement.
Since 2002, the Israeli government has been building a “security fence” that winds deep into Palestinian territory, claiming the barrier would keep Palestinian suicide bombers from striking Israeli citizens. But this separation wall is a major de facto annexation of Palestinian territories. By building the wall and increasing settlement expansion, Israel retains control over important Palestinian economic areas, agricultural grounds and natural resources like water. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel’s West Bank barrier violates international law, but the unequal struggle over the land of Palestine continues.”
The following pictures are taken inside the wall- people are trying to live as best they can inside the “refugee camps” that have turned into cities- but you can see they are very poor. The people seemed friendly. As I was taking photos – many smiled at me (which is much more than I can say about some of our previous stops.) Kids were on bikes, but very few people were on the streets.