Palestine

"If the olive trees knew the hands that planted them, their oil would become tears"

- Mahmoud Darwish

This will be one of our richest Digital Culture Boxes yet! 

We are so excited to bring the country and culture of Palestine. Our staff and board members at In-Sight Collaborative have deep ties to this beautiful place and can't wait to share the often overlooked aspects and extensive history of one of the oldest and most complex diasporas in the world. 

Your guides for this Digital Culture Box Experience will be our very own Board Member Mohammad Atrash from Jerusalem, and our Executive Director Madi Williamson who will compile resources and information from our Palestinian brothers and community. 

Let's begin

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Welcome to Palestine

We first want to orient you with this beautiful country that is situated on ancient holy lands and home to some of the jewels of humanity and civilization. Some of the holiest sites for Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are located in Palestine and pilgrims from all three religions flock to the area if their passports allow. 

At In-Sight Collaborative, we believe that listening to the authentic voices of those impacted by forced displacement is the best way to understand the places they come from. Palestine is a controversial topic for many people, mostly because of the dominant narrative in Western mainstream media that goes against majority Islamic nations and in the case of the Palestine-Israeli issue, tends to favor Israel. The Digital Culture Box newsletter includes a study conducted by a Canadian institution that highlights the frequency of this.

If you are coming from a Western dominant background, it is likely that your perspective of the Palestine-Israel conflict will be complex and difficult to understand. We hope that this culture box helps you learn more about the people of Palestine and the very real problems they experience under occupation. 

Current Events

The recent increase in tensions and violence began during Ramadan when residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood were violently dispossessed by colonial settlers whose behavior is supported by the State of Israel.

Since this dispossession began, Palestinians and activists all over the world have taken to the streets, to social media channels, and to the front lines of this occupation to demand the respect of their human rights.

Award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Omar Rammal created this short film to powerfully illustrate the long-standing practice of colonizers forcefully seizing Palestinian's homes.

For those looking for a deeper dive at the complexities of this issue, Trevor Noah provides a new lens that can be used to critically examine this decades-old issue.

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Modern-Day Palestine

"My experience in Palestine was a constant juxtaposition. On so many levels, it felt like a safe, secure, and even pleasant place. The old city in Jerusalem was a mesmorizing labrynth of sounds, smells, and flavors... but there was this unsettling undertone. The darkness and oppression were tangible, as was the arrogance and entitlement of the oppressors. I spent most of my time in West Bank in Ramallah and Hebron, both of which felt like totally normal suburbia in some areas until you reached the checkpoints, the walls, the creeping settlements, and the camps. That was when the darkness and inhumanity of this occupation were exposed. I can't even imagine the daily stress of living under that. Palestinians are truly the most resilient people I know."

- Madi Williamson

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The Culture of Palestine

The keffiyeh

This woven scarf is well known in the Middle East region and has become one of the many symbols of Palestine and her people. But what is the story behind it? 

In short, the design has symbolism and pays homage to the homeland: the fishnet pattern to honor the fishermen and the bounty of the sea and the olive leaves for the olive trees common in the region. The color and pattern styles will vary from region to region. 

Maqluba with the In-Sight and RBB Team!

Maqluba, meaning "upside-down" is one of the most popular - and delicious - dishes from Palestine. 
This April, some of the In-Sight team traveled to Chios where we were treated to a delicious iftar meal of maqluba with our brothers from Gaza.
Our brother Abdullah walked our team through the process of making this iconic dish. We hope you enjoy and are inspired to try making maqluba with your family!

Step One: Grocery Shopping

Our first stop was to the grocery store for rice, vegetables, and cooking essentials
Next, we stopped at the spice shop... the fresh spice smell was intoxicating even through our masks!

Step Two: Prep the Ingredients

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Step Three: Wait

While the rice soaks and the chicken broth is made, take some time to play with the house kitty

Step Four: Cut and Fry the Veggies and Chicken

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Step Five: Spice your Rice!

Step Six: Make your Layers

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Step Seven: Add your Broth

Step Eight: Let it Cook

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While we waited, we prepped some dates for iftar and Abdullah made dessert!

Step Nine: Flip!

This is the most important step! Our brother Awad was a chef in Gaza and shared his flipping expertise with us to serve the most delicious and perfect maqluba!

Thank You!

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"One day we will all leave from here, but these happy memories will stay with us forever:"
- Awad


This iftar meal was very special for us for many reasons.
Time with our brothers is always sacred to us because we know how quickly people's circumstances change, and even now, just six weeks on, many of the people we shared this meal with have moved on to different cities and countries as their destinies lead them elsewhere. We are thankful for the time they shared with us during the holy month of Ramadan.

This meal was also special because of the current situation in Palestine, particularly Gaza where our brothers are from.
All of the men in this photo lost someone they knew in the recent siege.
Some of them lost direct relatives as well. 
The atmosphere was heavy with grief and longing as they sang songs and told stories from their homeland. I could feel nostalgia catching in my own throat as I thought of the loved ones I have had to leave behind in occupied Palestine and haven't seen for almost two years, but my heart also swelled with humble gratitude as I thought about the many privileges I am granted that are denied to my brothers from Gaza. If I so desired, I could chance a trip to occupied territory and if the stars aligned, I might get to hug my friends and Palestinian family again. This is not an option for the men from Gaza. 

Palestine is one of the only places in the world where voluntary repatriation (return to your home country) is not supported by IOM. Once people leave Gaza illegally, they are not able to go back. I can't even begin to fathom the weight of that decision. I can't begin to imagine the weight of having to carry that grief and longing with you on such an insane journey to safety. I can't begin to contemplate the amount of fear they must live in every day as we watch the situation in Palestine intensify under this terrible occupation.

My heart and soul are always with our brave and loving brothers from Palestine. I am deeply humbled that they shared so much with us.

Please continue to educate yourself on ways to support Palestine and advocate for people living under colonial occupation.