Recently I spent two weeks with a friend's family in Ramallah. Totally immersed in the Arabic culture, I was amazed at the warmth, kindness and generosity of this beautiful family. They took me to Bethlehem, Nablus, Hebron, Jericho and the Dead Sea. 

Palestinians are only allowed to enter Jerusalem and Israel via an Israeli taxi. Abed and his friend were my personal Jerusalem guides. I saw many check points with armed Israeli soldiers, even in the Arab section of the old city. Living in this occupied country has to be difficult. Palestinians must buy their water, electricity, gas, etc. from Israel even though they could supply these necessities. Arabs in Jerusalem cannot make repairs to their homes.

In Hebron, I went to the oldest continuous place of prayer, the Ibrahimi Mosque, where Abraham and Sarah are buried. The old city of Hebron is a World Heritage Site. I saw many of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. How would you like it if you came home from work or vacation and discovered that your place was not yours anymore? These settlements have displaced many Palestinians.

I was given a beaded key by a retired history professor. He explained that Palestinians carry a key as a sign of hope that some day they will return home and their land will be theirs.

Sharon A. Loudon, Long Point

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