It’s hard to describe the incredible lack of desire I had to blog over the past few days. While I can’t seem to pinpoint it, when we began staying with our Ramallah friends’ host families I had been utterly dreading opening that computer and baring my soul through many clicks on a keyboard. What I can say, however, is that this second part of the trip, once we were stationed in Ramallah,  was vastly different than the first half. Before I was traveling and struggling to understand and then I was simply there. Rather than reflecting out the window of our tour bus I was being drenched in experiences as I trudged through the city’s streets in the pouring rain. As hard as I try I will never truly understand politics. What I do understand is humanity. One of the first things my host sister, Dina, said to me was in response to my desire to pick a side. “You don’t have to pick a side,” she said “You just have to understand”. No lecture, tour guide, or discussion has helped me better understand than getting to know Dina. Paired up randomly it turned out to be one of those wonderful situations where the more time we spent together the more we realized we had in common. She is so much more than a poor Palestinian suffering under an occupation. She is the rebel daughter, the ex-girlfriend, and the best friend. As a teenage girl she deals with the very same issues I do and on top of that she fights for her freedom.

Friday night we sit on the couch in the sitting area outside our bedrooms and laugh as she goes through pictures on Facebook and describes her friends. She tells me stores about each one, drawing connections to former couples and cringing at those girls she knows hate her simply because she doesn’t match her nail polish to her outfit and she flirts with all the wrong boys. She asks me if I’ve heard of the rapper Lowkey and when I haven’t she immediately pulls up Youtube and finds his video “Terrorist”. Standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, his rap implores and forces anyone listening to examine who is truly doing the terrorism. His angry words seem to fill my soul before coming back out of my body in the form of goosebumps. Sitting next to Dina who I’ve become close enough to hug and giggle with as girls so often do, I cannot say I understand the conflict but I know I understand human connection. As we move on to another video by Lowkey called Obamanation I am reminded of my role in all this. Obamanation begins with the statement “This is not an attack on the American people. This is an attack on the system in which they live.” While Obama preached change as thick as the billionaires wallets that fund our nations political campaigns, he wouldn’t dare touch Israel. Our foreign policy is what ensure the continuation of both the conflict and the occupation. I cannot say whether it is one state solution or two. I cannot say where the right to return must be recognized in theory or in practice. I can say that violence will increase and lives will be lost as apartheid is renewed in full if something doesn’t change halfway across the world in Washington D.C. Another piece of graffiti written on the wall that simply said “Made in the U.S.A.” is another image forever engrained in my mind and I understand my responsibility.

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