When I went to Palestine

Twenty years ago this month Caroline and I went to Palestine. We travelled with a group called Olive Tours, whose mission was to give people an opportunity to see directly what was happening there, and the nature of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, by meeting people (both Palestinian and Israeli) working for peace. It was a time of change in the region: the recent deaths of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall had turned international eyes towards the behaviour of the Israeli state, and the separation wall was in the process of being assembled, transforming the nature of security between Israel and Palestine.

The twenty years since have brought little further change. Arafat died, then Hamas was elected in Gaza, and things calcified into an ongoing situation of ratcheting oppression, countered by continuous peaceful protest, studded with acts of violence; until October last year, when everything changed again.

Looking back over this now, what stands out to me is the defensive crouch Israel entered as a result of its role as an eternal occupying power, to the point that we were interrogated in foreign airports and felt the need to dispose of a copy of Private Eye magazine before it was spotted; and the utter ordinariness of the Palestinian people we met everywhere, enacting the shared act of resistance that is holding on to their humanity.

I sent eight emails to my travel mailing list describing this journey. They’ve been unavailable for many years but I’ve pulled them out of archive and added them to this blog on the appropriate dates; also added are the photos from the trip (which had to be smuggled out of the country by sending the memory card separately so our images of Palestine wouldn’t be discovered by soldiers at the airport).

These are direct links to the eight parts:

Part 1: Welcomes

Part 2: Facts on the ground

Part 3: Barriers

Part 4: Painted eggs

Part 5: Pushes

Part 6: Green spaces

Part 7: Tough situation

Part 8: Bumps in the night

2 thoughts on “When I went to Palestine”

  1. Hey Morgue,

    I’m so, so happy you (re)published these entries. I remember reading them back when you first posted them. We had met in a hostel in Barcelona (didn’t we visit the Sagrada Familia together as well as attending a Flamenco concert, not understanding the words but feeling the *feeling* if you know what I mean). I was on my bike tour and I followed your writing (or maybe I received your emails? I can’t remember anymore) when I was later living in Japan. These particular emails/articles stuck with me this whole time. I have told people about them quite often over the years.

    Recently, I started thinking about them a lot and began trying to hunt them down and lo and behold, here they are. What a pleasure. Thank you so much!

    Hope you’re well and we can meet again some day.

    Take care,


  2. Great to hear from you Krzysztof! That Barcelona visit was so good, I had such a good time there.
    It has been quite a few years since i’ve gone outside of NZ but I hope to get out there again someday – if I end up in your part of the world i’ll look you up for sure. And if you ever come down this way I’m here!

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