Tag Archives: Hebron

Don’t talk about Palestine

Jerusalem old city by Maggie Nazer

Jerusalem old city by Maggie Nazer

I have visited Jerusalem 6 times so far in the past 2 months: more than my Palestinian friends will be allowed to enter it in a lifetime.

For the first time so far the old city of Jerusalem was empty today. I walked alone and people stopped me and gave me gifts for simply being here.

It’s getting more and more dangerous and people are afraid to come. the danger is not only physical. It’s holistic. Your comfort is endangered. Your faith in humanity is endangered. Your ability to live life as you have before, to trust the news, respect your political leaders and rest in your ignorance are all endangered.

So, don’t come to Jerusalem if you can’T bear the truth about all the killed and all the oppressed. Don’t talk about Palestine from the position of a “first world” intellectual while all you know is what your country’s media has told you.

But be aware that you are not safe anywhere. Not anymore. Images will find their way to you, stories will be told even if you try to avoid them. Ignorance is not a choice when it’s responsible for the death of innocent. We will not keep silent.

The suffering of one nation is not limited by its boarders. My stolen childhood is my example. But there are many.

Where to now? Maggie Nazer at the closed Shuhada street in Hebron, west Bank

Where to now?
Maggie Nazer at the closed Shuhada street in Hebron, west Bank

My father didn’t know how to love us because he learned how to defend himself through the means of aggression before he could learn to love. He learned to throw stones before he learned to give roses, or hugs, or kisses. He didn’t feel worthy of love because he learned that as a Palestinian he could have either his life or his freedom and dignity. Never both.

Today I prayed on the grave of Jesus Christ that we will hear of no more death, no matter who’s on the receiving end. I prayed that all people’s dignity, mobility and rights will be respected.

See you soon, Jerusalem; Hebron, don’t forget what we shared; Palestine, we met at last and you are part of me.

Last day at work: Happiness in Palestine.

Closing of training and English classes led by Maggie Nazer at Hebron YDRC, Palestine

Closing of training and English classes led by Maggie Nazer at Hebron YDRC, Palestine

Today was my last day working at the Hebron Youth Development Center as an intern. The amazing performance and exhibition which the participants in my leadership training “Art for Social Change” organized were exceptional. It was exceptional what they managed to do just in two short days of preparation left on their own. It was so fulfilling to actually see that my words and actions inspire others! My amazing co-trainer Asala Salhab said: “They told me yesterday: “Maggie said we are leaders so we should organize the performance alone and that we can do anything” and indeed after hours spent in the theater space yesterday, today they came at 9 in the morning on a Ramadan day only to rehearse and perfect the showcase of their work.

It’s unbelievable to me how close I have grown to my English students and how dearly I love them: all of them at once and each of them in a unique way. I spent the last 3 hours in a coffee shop having one of the best times in my life (seriously!), discussing passionately all possible topics imaginable (which I didn’t imagine to be possible when I first met them) despite the many cultural norms which otherwise do not allow a girl to be smoking nargille in the company of guys.

I want to tell you all again that I love you so and you have given me more than I have ever expected! Never have my ideas and efforts for social change and youth empowerment been more well accepted and celebrated.

Last but not least, you have brought me back to Life (no exaggeration!) after a very difficult year in which I many times lost hope in the power of my voice to influence any actual change and in which I was almost about to lose my trust in others…

You have given me hope, you have given me love, you have given me an enriched sense for identity (“We Palestinians teach Life, Sir!”), you have given me your unconditional support and trust.

And I’m way too happy and inspired to even be sad that I am leaving! (Although, I guess it will hit me once I’m no longer on this sacred land.)

Carry the magic we created together with you at all times and spread it generously!

P.S. Don’t forget: WE ARE CONNECTED NOW!

Special THANKS to Center for Careers and Internships at Middlebury College and my hosting organization Hebron YDRC.

Pure Joy

Pure Joy


My 21st Birthday in Palestine

In second grade I invited my classmates and friends from school to celebrate my birthday. My mom and I cooked all day and prepared a one-of-a-kind home-made Barbie-like cake with a real doll inside. It was perfect.

When nobody came I stayed at our apartment’s balcony hoping that people are just late, crying. The only kid who showed up was a girl I used to go to kindergarden with whom I had randomly met and invited the previous day. This girl, Lina Stankova, soon became my best friend and has been a best friend in the true meaning of the word ever since.

As I grew up I stopped being excited for birthdays. I think it was just less painful than expecting much and getting dissapointed, especially on the day the world tells you should be your one “special day”.

Of course, I have had great birthdays afterwards that I have shared with amazing friends.

This year, for the second time, I celebrated my birthday out of my homeland Bulgaria. And this time for the first time in a very long while I allowed myself to really be excited!

May be it’s the culture, or simply the people here, but I have felt so much loved and supported here that I have indeed grown to love this place as my second home which, by the way, it is supposed to be (my father is Palestinian). I’m also happy to say that I have found a place which I not only want to visit again, but to stay at (for a while) and work at.

on 8th of July, my birthday, I was nourished in the love of my students, my colleagues, my cousins, my friends and other beautiful people that I may not have yet had the chance to connect deeply. They all gathered and planned my celebration, gave me beautiful gifts, but most importantly granted me with their attention, their acknowledgement and unconditional positive regard.

I was so delighted to hear my cousin Dana Nazer say she saw the boys from my English classes walking around the Hebron Mall going inside all the women shops to search for a present for me!

Thank you all who were present with me yesterday and who thought of me from across continents! I am deeply touched and so HAPPY!

Happy birthday, Maggie Nazer!

Yet another day in Hebron: Protests and Clashes

I work at the Hebron Youth Development Resource Center and I live in what is known as Beit al Tafl, probably the biggest center for youth and children in the West Bank.

As we were about  to finish work today, my collegues told me there were shootings and gas bombs thrown nearby by the Israeli soldiers because of the protests of civilians.

Men and women from the city have been protesting for several days in support of the Palestinian political prisoners gone on hunger strike. According to Palestinian News Network (PNN) more than 40 prisoners have been hospitalized after spending more than 30 days without any food; many of the protesting prisoners have been held in detention.

As we went outside to see what’s happening, the smell hit us immediately. The soldiers have been dispersing a chemically produced substance with extremely heavy smell, which makes you lose your breath, cough and experience various negative physical reactions.

As we moved towards the street, we could clearly see the soldiers who seemed to greatly outnumber the protesting crowd. I wondered why my colleague Omar brought us on the side of the soldiers and whether it was safe, but he assured us the international press was allowed on this side and it was okey to take photos and video for the sake of the freedom of the media.

I later met Mousa, a representative of the Roters agency, who gave us tips: “When they throw the gas bombs, the wind may direct it in the opposite way, so you have to run as far as possible”. “Don’t touch your eyes”.

The smell of animal dirt coming from the liquid dispersed towards the Palestinians was all around us, heavy and sticky.

I briefly saw one of the women protesters- an old woman, holding the photo of her son, held in jail because of his resistance towards the Israeli.

We soon decided to go back to the office. “Someone will get killed today”- Anas, my other colleague and friend said- “Two people were killed on Ras Eljora (the name of the street nearby a big check point) last year”.  As we came back our female colleague Ayat complained about the way we smelled. We were lowered to animals without even being at the center of the action.

We soon decided to leave and all got in Omar’s car. I was going with my friend and volunteer Asala to join her family for dinner. As we came closer, we saw the soldiers on the groud with the guns in their hands, ready to shoot. Stones were thrown in the same direction fromyoung Palestinian boys. We drove closer to the Palestinian crowd as we wanted to get into the city.

For some reason we had to get out of the car and walk.

As I got off the car, gas bombs were thrown in our direction and teenage boys were holding stones to throw at the soldiers.

It was a great chaos.

Fear was so present and so was the need to hold on to each other and to look out for each other. I was trying to keep up with Anas who was walking ahead and looking back to see where Asala was.

There were some guys sitting nearby, quiet. They weren’t running away.

They must have been used to it.


In the evening the protests continued, but this time I was looking from the balcony of Asala’s house. The men were on horses; flags were raised in the sky, Allah was called for assistance.

It was just another day in Hebron.


In the forefront lines I observed with unbelief. Men were enemies.

Men were risking their lives, their futures, the futures of their not-yet-born daughters and sons.

And all I could think was: how is the world letting this happen?

Gas bomb thrown by soldiers DSCF9463 DSCF9465 DSCF9466 DSCF9467 DSCF9468 DSCF9469 Daily Clashes in Hebron DSCF9457

Day 1 and Arrival: the magic of excitement


A beautiful window of a building in Hebron

I arrived at the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport in Israel at 00.15 on the 23rd of May after what I know was the longest and most stressful travel experience I’ve ever had. It all started in New York as I was told I can not board my flight to Moscow as my flight to Tel Aviv would depart from an airport different from the one I would land at and I did not have a Russian visa to be able to travel between the two. After much stress and some tears, I paid an extra fee and got a ticket for another flight from Moscow to Tel Aviv. My first flight of at least 10 hours went by in sleeping and reading books. The Russian carrier Transaereo did not bother to entertain us which was rather unfortunate as I had another 14 hours to spend at the Moscow airport and yet nothing once I read the two books I had on the plane.

A view from Al Khalil/ Hebron

A view from Al Khalil/ Hebron

I felt very anxious all through my flight to Tel Aviv. As I got of the plane I joined the longest cue I’ve seen at an airport and waited. Everyone showed their documents, answered a few questions and went through. Once it was my turn, I passed my passport. I was asked about my father’s and my grandfather’s names and was immediately addressed to a nearby room where I had to go to be questioned. In fact, apart from the anxiety of not knowing whether you’ll be let in the country or not, the process was not as scary and dramatic as I had it described by others or imagined it. The Israeli staff was quite understanding and friendly. I still had to wait two hours to get my passport, though.

I managed to call my friend Gal who had told me he was going to pick me up from the airport and was readily going to wait for him to come in the next couple of hours. Instead, just five minutes later he showed up and surprised me saying he had been waiting for hours for me to arrive and had even called the emigration office to ask whether they had me! :)

In the morning Gal and his mom left me at the Tel Aviv’s bus station and went to a wedding. As my two miserable suitcases were all broken, I was struggling to make it to the other side of the street but a dark-haired girl helped me carry one. As we talked I was very self-conscious about saying I was half-Palestinian and that I was going to the West Bank as I had no idea if she was an Arab or an Israeli or if it mattered at all. Her name was Nour.

Checkpoint at Hebron nearby the infamous Hebron Mosque

Checkpoint at Hebron nearby the infamous Hebron Mosque

As I got off at Jerusalem I went ahead to get the last bus to Hebron for the day. A cute Boston University rugby guy called Tony helped me with my suitcase and I waited for the Israeli bus to Al Khalil (this is the Arabic name of Hebron).  I wanted to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t leave my suitcases as Nour had told me I should not leave my luggage unattended even for a minute unless I want to get myself into a lot of trouble. In the meantime, another Arab girl asked me to look after her bags which I agreed to do. As she took a while, I grew anxious… She came back soon, but I couldn’t help but acknowledge how all of that was making me feel even after being in the country for just a couple of hours! Since both Israeli and Arabs helped me and welcomed me I felt It was important to yet again remind myself to not project anything to people and simply see them as individuals and not in their stereotypical roles of “oppressors”, “victims”, “terrorists”…

DSCF9044|My colleague Anas from the Hebron Youth Development Resource Center where I’ll be working in the next two months came to pick me up and drove me to the organization’s premises nearby the Northern entrance of the city. I learned from him that some relatives of mine on my father’s side had called him to tell him to “take care of me”. It was clear to me my mom wouldn’t do it as she knows very well how I detest any form of patronizing. I got somewhat mad that someone is giving their permission to someone else to patronize ME, which I will not allow, especially if it exhibits itself in ways that are limiting to my free actions and unrespectful of my free judgement.

Soon after I had arrived, Anas and his friend Muotaz, the other intern- Marin and I went to Betlehem for dinner.

I was suddenly overcome by so much joy and excitement, we frequently stopped the car to just gaze and take photos! I haven’t laughed so badly in months: I was telling Anas he’s giving me stomachache out of laughter!


Sunset nearby Betlehem

I had forgotten to awe at the new things I see. To be grateful. To be trully excited even if it is annoying for the people around me (Anas and Moutaz were making fun of me for being so excitable. Someone else recently told me he has traveled so much now, there is nothing to be excited about anymore. I think I felt this for a while, too). I think you need a certain sense of comfort and ease, and peace of mind to be able to exercise your excitement.

Excitement, however, is for me one of the most crucial qualities of being alive.

This is sooooo cooool!

This is sooooo cooool!

Books that Inspire! For Palestine campaign at Middlebury College

Books for Palestine

Thanks to the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) at Middlebury College, this summer I will intern in Hebron Youth Development Resource Center (YDRC) in the West Bank, Palestine. This is the first of a series of initiatives I am planning to implement hoping to contribute for the empowerment of young people in Palestine.

Books are the easiest way for new ideas to be brought in, contemplated, adapted, transformed and disseminated! The right to books and ensuring the availability of books should be of uttermost importance.

The collection of new (published in the last 10 years!) books in good condition and covering various topics related to youth will be collected and brought to Palestine to be exhibited and made available to young people at the youth social hub in Hebron YDRC. The campaign has already be generously supported by CTLR. Further enrichment of the value of the campaign will be sending positive encouragements or inspirational messages along with the books to create an opportunity for human connection.

The current campaign emphasizes on quality over quantity: the books meeting the requirements set will be brought in Palestine within my luggage for no additional cost (I will not take much luggage on this trip since I’m going home to Bulgaria afterwards) and will not cause any further ecological harm (other than being made of paper, i.e. trees).

Feel free to message me for more information whether or not you want to donate a book! E-mail Maggie Nazer at mnazer@middlebury.edu