why I can visit Canada Park and he doesn't ?
Thaís Lacerda Queiroz Carvalho participated in the 4th Educational Network for Human Rights in Palestine / Israel Program organized by FFIPP-Brasil. She has completed her internship in February 2016 at De-Colonizer. She is studying International Relations in the University of Rio de Janeiro.
I met him in a World Scout activity in Slovenia in 2014. He was the only Palestinian there, among more than a thousand of participants of other 160 countries. It was in a magical environment, with so many different scouts from many different places. Scouting is always magical for me. But I need to confess that that guy caught specially my attention for a very specific reason...
I study international relations and that semester I was starting to get interested in “the Middle East”, mainly “the Israel-Palestine conflict”. And him, the Palestinian guy, caught my attention exactly because besides being well-disposed and talkative, he was kind of an alive part of what I was studding... He was Palestinian!
During the activity we talked a lot and he told me about the really journey he had to do to arrive in Slovenia, how he traveled to Jordan, all the difficulties to do it, to cross the border, to send someone to get the visa in Tel Aviv for him... But even I having a small notion about the issue, at that time I didn’t realize what all of what he was saying actually meant.
In January 2016 I came to Palestine. I came here with a kind of a study group “to hear the unheard side of the story”, it means, “to know the Palestinian issue”. So we had a lot of activities and tours organized for us to met people and places and listen to their stories and struggles. I started to understand more the history and what is going on here (and of course creating several new doubts). What I couldn’t imagine was that one distant scout activity in Slovenia 2 years ago would connect me so hard to something here.
I met again my Palestinian friend and in one of our talks I discovered that his parents were born in a village called Yalu. Searching on internet during my work at De- Colonizer I found out that today the place that once was Yalu is now a park, built by the Jewish National Fund of Canada. By coincidence, Eitan Bronstein from De-Colonizer told me that one of the activities we were going to do with the group was visiting the Canada Park! Eitan was going to guide us there. At the same day I met my friend and told him the news.
I didn’t know what would be his reaction. After all he is not allowed to go there. He is a Palestinian guy. He lives in Ramallah. He was born in Ramallah and has never been to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or any city “in the other side of the border”. The Israeli law doesn’t allow him. He cannot visit the village where his parents were born. But me, a Brazilian, I can. It was at that moment that all the experiences that he has shared with me in Slovenia started making sense. And all the feelings got so confused inside me! At
first, I don’t know if he was believing me. After, he seemed very, happy with the news and with the opportunity I was having. And that made me even more confused.
The visit to Yalu was very strange, I have to say. Eitan did a very nice tour with us, telling the story of the destruction of Yalu, Imwas and Bayt Nuba in 1967, where now is Canada Park, how it became a park in 1984, why those villages were destroyed in 1967, because they resisted to 1948... We learned a lot. But my thinking during that visit was with my friend. Was in the crazy situation that is he, who was born very next to there, whose parents were born there, has no rights to visit the place. While me, the Brazilian who was born so far away and has nothing to do with the story of the place, could be there and see all the destruction the Israel’s government and the Jewish National Found perpetrated together.
I could stand there and take as many pictures and create as many memories in that place as I desire. But he couldn’t. And he may never be able to. Why that?
That’s what visiting Yalu meant to me. It meant asking why the Israeli project, while is creating dreams to so many Jews, “recovering their memory and the promised land”, is also destroying places of memories to lots of Palestinians, and preventing them to dream their dreams on that same place.
The group in Canada Park
© Thais Queiroz