Before leaving Jerusalem, I decided to have a last visit on the other side of the Wall, in Abu Dis. I chose this destination because I’ve had a tour about East Jerusalem and I wanted to find out more about the towns next to the separation wall.
When the USA moved its embassy to Jerusalem, Abu Dis was mentioned often because it was proposed as a substitute for a future Palestinian capital instead of East Jerusalem. Palestinian Authority didn’t accept this proposal especially because they don’t have full control over Abu Dis, surrounded by the Wall and by the settlements from all the parts. The situation of this town is quite controversial because Abu Dis District is under Jerusalem Governorate but most of Abu Dis land is under Israel control, in area C, as in the map below:
Abu Dis is easy to reach from Jerusalem by bus no. 263 from Damascus Gate and the ticket is around 6 shekel. The town is not very touristic but it’s known as being the home of Al-Quds University, where are studying more than 6000 students from Jerusalem and from other districts like Jericho, Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarem and Qalqilia.
For me, Abu Dis is a place where I found the humanity in the most simple way, beyond the politics and the shadow of the Wall. I went there without having any contact or plan, so in order to interact with locals, I decided to ask a host for one night to people that could help me. My first attempt failed because the woman approached didn’t speak English, so we couldn’t understand each other. The second woman that I asked, no only that understood me but she also went with me to a close workshop where she talked with the men there on my behalf. Without thinking too much, those men started to give phone calls trying to find a host for me. Everything was in Arabic, I just could understand from their nonverbal language the result of the phone calls. I felt really lucky to see such a big mobilization for a foreigner, but after a while, I realized that these people interrupted their work for me and I kindly asked to leave. The woman stayed beside me all the time and she didn’t let me go, more than this she invited me to her house to have dinner and meanwhile, they found also a place where I could sleep. The time spent in that workshop with the woman next to me and those men searching for a host was priceless for me because I understood the Palestinian kindness.
The story doesn’t end here…I went home to this generous, kind woman, called Mervat, who treated me very nice and cooked a delicious dinner for me. I met her beautiful daughter, Afnan, a student at Medicine Faculty, very proud to be the first woman future doctor in her family. I saw the light in her eyes when she told me that her dream is to become a gynecologist. I’ve met her friends to Sahar and Saja, that was giving me a ride to the place where I had to sleep. We spent a pleasant evening together, they invited me to eat the traditional Palestinian sweet, Kunafa. I felt not only welcomed but part of their family. That day is one of the dearest memories of mine because walking along the Wall, in Abu Dis, I found generosity, empathy and humanity.