Bayan Haddad

Growing up, I lived in H1 [under control of the Palestinian Authority], while my school was in H2 [the portion of the city under Israeli military control]. I would associate H2 with excitement, suspense, and an adrenaline kick. We studied in a mosque for a month when the situation was too dangerous to go to school. I avoided the Old City [H2] during my university years. What was fun for a 10-year-old was a source of anguish for my 20-year-old self. It was only when my friends from abroad would visit that I started to go again to H2 to show them the Old City. I started to realize how important it is to show up there and to support the people. Now, I take international visitors on tours around the Old City and visit families there. I encourage visitors, and everyone really, to support small businesses and handmade products in the Old City which gives people a nudge to keep going. I would also encourage my other Palestinian friends to come visit here. I have two friends from Ramallah who have never been to Hebron! “Too dangerous” or “too far,” I usually hear them say, as I ponder over how divided we are, or so it feels. Ditch the stereotypes, and yalla [come on]!

- Bayan Haddad