Read Around the World Feb 2021 – Palestine
For February our Round the World Journey took us to Palestine so what did we learn?
Fun facts about Palestine from this website
- The Dead Sea, which is Earth’s lowest natural point of elevation, is found in Palestine.
- For many centuries, olives have been a central part of Palestinian life, culture, and tradition. With over 45% of land in the country dedicated to olive trees, it is no surprise that they are a highly revered and treasured aspect of Palestine’s identity.
- The majority of the population is Muslim, although there is also a large population of Christians as well.
- Christmas is celebrated three times each year. The first of which is December 25th, per western tradition, followed by January 6th per Greek Orthodox tradition, and finally on January 18th, as per Armenian tradition.
- Palestine is known for some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the world, popping into existence mostly in April and May. These include irises, jonquils, wild poppies, and other vibrant species of flowers which paint the colorful hillsides during a short spring season.
- The Church of Nativity, which is considered the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is regarded as a sacred place by both Christians and Muslims alike. It is also one of the world’s oldest churches.
- There are several species of large wild animals in Palestine. These include foxes, mountain gazelles, Nubian ibex (a desert-dwelling species of goat), wild boar, wolves, jackals, leopards, hyenas, and many types of migratory birds as well.
I chose to visit Palestine via Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. This was a 5 star read for me. I learned so much about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and how the animosity between the 2 peoples came into being. This was especially interesting to me living in the West as our news agencies tend to focus on the Israeli side of things and neglect to inform their viewers about the other side of the conflict.
Written from the point of view of one Palestinian family this book covers their triumphs and tragedies through the major turmoil that began in 1941, encompasses the formation of the State of Israel, the 6 day war, the massacre of Sabra and Shatila up until 2002 and the on-going revenge attacks both countries perpetrate.
What struck me most was the tragedy of one of the world’s most religious areas being the centre of so much violence, hatred and need for revenge. Especially as the central religions involved all preach the idea of peace and forgiveness. I really hope that at some point in the future both sides realise that revenge doesn’t actually solve anything and as the saying goes when you seek revenge remember to “dig two graves”.
Away from the focus of war it was also interesting to see how Palestine was in the past. A peaceful area with people dedicated to caring for the land and nature. I loved the descriptions of the olive harvest and the April flowers.
The opening of the central story is particularly beautiful:
“In a distant time, before history marched over the hills and shattered present and future, before wind grabbed the land at one corner and shook it of its name and character; before Amal was born, a small village east of Haifa lived quietly on figs and olives, open frontiers and sunshine.”
Still away from the war setting I loved the Muslim culture and the many ways Amal describes of saying thank you:
“In the Arab world, gratitude is a language unto itself. ‘May Allah bless the hands that gave me this gift’; beauty is in your eyes that find me pretty’; ‘May God extend your life’; ‘May Allah never deny your prayer’…and so on, an infinite string of prayerful appreciation”
Personally I believe this is a book that everyone should read because how can you understand and (hopefully) resolve conflict if you don’t hear what the other person is saying.
Other readers visited Palestine in the following ways:
Rockpools from Litsy: The Sea Cloak by Nayrouz Qarmout a short story collection that was rated a Pick.
Did you join us on our visit? Let us know what you read.
March means we are off to sunny Spain – what are your reading plans?
I also read Mornings in Jenin and found it both educational and moving. Great recommendation.
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