Early Tuesday morning we set off for Bethlehem, where our first port of call was the Palestine Museum of Natural History (https://www.palestinenature.org/). There the Director, Mazin Qumsiyeh, gave us a talk about trying to preserve the fauna and flora of Palestine, and its history. This was a wonderful talk, which could not be separated from the politics of occupation. His gardens include the use of fish in tanks that provide the nutrients for plants - aquaponics - and much other interesting work.
We found throughout this trip innovative work on sustainable agriculture, in this museum, in art exhibits, in the women’s centre in Bethlehem etc.
We were hosted to a lovely meal at the Arab Women's Union guest house in Beit Sahour, then visited sights in Bethlehem, and returned to Ramallah.
The next day we were given a tour around the new Palestinian Museum at Birzeit (http://www.palmuseum.org) by its Director Mahmoud Hawari. This is completely new, and has no exhibition at present, but Mahmoud outlined its plans including touring exhibitions on embroidery, on Gaza History etc. This promises to be a major weapon in the Palestinian struggle. As Mahmoud says, the building (shortlisted for an international award) shows “we are here to stay”.
This visit was followed by a trip to the Democracy & Workers Rights Centre, which campaigns on workers’ rights. In the evening some of our group went to the Fida Youth International Camp, for a show on Palestinian culture.
On Thursday we went for a talk at Addameer (http://www.addameer.org), the prisoners’ rights organisation which campaigns for prisoners in Israeli jails, and in Palestinian jails. The authorities are hostile, because of the work they do highlighting the injustices; 98% are found guilty by Israeli military courts, including children, and PA courts are clearly political. Their workers regularly get imprisoned, and recently one was beaten up. We all felt they do great, necessary work.