First guide to 'Palestine on both sides of the wall'

Released in UK/USA, for people wanting to see beyond stereotypes

02 December, 10:16

(By Elisa Pinna).

(ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 2 - One of the 'must-dos' for tourists wanting to travel in the Palestinian State is to sip a coffee while chewing on a kanafeh (an Arab cake) at a table of the Al Aqsa Bakery in the old town of Nablus, as a part of a wander around all those dark little streets with their little niche shrines and hammamat. The tips and itineraries are part of the first guide book dedicated entirely to a country still seeking international recognition. Few people know it, but there are a number of five-star hotels in the Palestinian Territories, and even an Oktoberfest (beer festival) in the village of Taybeh.

"Palestine on both sides of the wall" is hitting bookshops in the UK and the United States, published by Bradt and Globe Pequot respectively, and is dedicated to ''independent travelers who want to see beyond the the conflict-focused reporting of the area and religious and ethnic stereotypes''.

The book's author, Sarah Irving, was keen write about the Palestinian communities living in Israel because "it is important to highlight their continued presence and their cultural resilience within the State of Israel," she said in an interview with the Palestinian news agency Ma'an. In Irving's view, "these communities and their culture are often side-lined or represented as marginal, dangerous and unattractive by many conventional guidebooks to Israel".

In her book, Irving explains that she wants to describe "the incredibly rich historical and cultural opportunities that Palestine offers travellers and the political importance of people from around the world seeing the situation in Palestine by themselves". A growing number of tourist programmes have been launched both in the West Bank and within Bedouin communities living in Israel. "Obviously, the main obstacle to the growth of tourism in Palestine are in the behaviour of the State of Israel, which does not allow travellers to move around freely," Irving says. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Territories are deeply moving for the tourist. Among the various experiences, Irving chooses three "must-dos". One is to "lose yourself" in the medina of Nablus. Also, travellers are encouraged to taste a breakfast made of local fruit, olive oil, thyme and smoked Taboun bread on the terrace of the wonderful guesthouse in Sebastia. Lastly, an altogether different experience: "a political tour of Hebron, because it is impossible to understand what the occupation and (Jewish) settlements really mean until you see the outrageous behaviour of the Israeli army and settlers there and the impact that it has on the city". (ANSAmed).

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