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Taibe-Genin, june 29, 2022

“What you’re doing is much greater than just taking us to the beach. My children asked me: Are these Jews? Because they only know soldiers and are afraid of them. So this is much more than a day at the beach.”

Walaa told us this, the coordinator of the group that arrived at the Beach Day from Tayibe, near the Palestinian town of Jenin.

I joined the project as a volunteer today for the first time. The excitement! I had heard so much about this initiative, and finally participated myself.

After inflating about 40 life-saving tubes and doing the volunteers-getting-acquainted circle, the group arrived. The children ran straight into the water, the mothers stood on the edge, somewhat reserved. Not all of them, but most eventually surrendered and went into the water too. Apparently, this group had already been to the beach before, so the wonder was a bit less powerful. But not much…

For me this was an opportunity to practice my Arabic, although I could hardly understand them when they answered me, and the children were next to impossible to understand. A bit hopeless, but if we haven’t given up hope on ending the occupation, will this beat us?

The ones who sounded hopeless were the women with whom we talked on the park lawn.

“There no chance. It’s impossible for the occupation to end. We don’t believe it.”

So sad, so understandable. We insist that hope must be upheld, but can we also hold on to it for them?

I joined the short sailing in the Jaffa port that ended the day. It was fun to sail the sea, but I was a bit scared for the children who could not hold back and stood by the railing the whole time. Who could stop their excitement?

Even dancing took place on deck, and happy singing. What fun. A group of women and children having a good time on a boat opposite Jaffa. Everything seemed so normal…

But a little later they boarded the bus to go back home, the home which the women we talked with on the park lawn defined as a prison…

Still, spirits on the bus were cheery – tired but satisfied. Here’s hoping they took along with them all the goodness that this wonderful project fills them with.

Written by: Vered Eyal-Saldinger

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