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  • I'm a tourism entrepreneur and a peacebuilder,

  • but this is not how I started.

  • When I was seven years old, I remember watching television

  • and seeing people throwing rocks,

  • and thinking, this must be a fun thing to do.

  • So I got out to the street and threw rocks,

  • not realizing I was supposed to throw rocks at Israeli cars.

  • Instead, I ended up stoning my neighbors' cars. (Laughter)

  • They were not enthusiastic about my patriotism.

  • This is my picture with my brother.

  • This is me, the little one, and I know what you're thinking:

  • "You used to look cute, what the heck happened to you?"

  • But my brother, who is older than me,

  • was arrested when he was 18,

  • taken to prison on charges of throwing stones.

  • He was beaten up when he refused to confess that he threw stones,

  • and as a result, had internal injuries

  • that caused his death soon after he was released from prison.

  • I was angry, I was bitter,

  • and all I wanted was revenge.

  • But that changed when I was 18.

  • I decided that I needed Hebrew to get a job,

  • and going to study Hebrew in that classroom

  • was the first time I ever met Jews who were not soldiers.

  • And we connected over really small things, like the fact that I love country music,

  • which is really strange for Palestinians.

  • But it was then that I realized also that we have a wall of anger,

  • of hatred and of ignorance that separates us.

  • I decided that it doesn't matter what happens to me.

  • What really matters is how I deal with it.

  • And therefore, I decided to dedicate my life

  • to bringing down the walls that separate people.

  • I do so through many ways.

  • Tourism is one of them, but also media and education,

  • and you might be wondering, really, can tourism change things?

  • Can it bring down walls? Yes.

  • Tourism is the best sustainable way to bring down those walls

  • and to create a sustainable way of connecting with each other

  • and creating friendships.

  • In 2009, I cofounded Mejdi Tours,

  • a social enterprise that aims to connect people,

  • with two Jewish friends, by the way,

  • and what we'll do, the model we did,

  • for example, in Jerusalem, we would have two tour guides,

  • one Israeli and one Palestinian, guiding the trips together,

  • telling history and narrative and archaeology and conflict

  • from totally different perspectives.

  • I remember running a trip together with a friend named Kobi --

  • Jewish congregation from Chicago, the trip was in Jerusalem --

  • and we took them to a refugee camp, a Palestinian refugee camp,

  • and there we had this amazing food.

  • By the way, this is my mother. She's cool.

  • And that's the Palestinian food called maqluba.

  • It means "upside-down."

  • You cook it with rice and chicken, and you flip it upside-down.

  • It's the best meal ever.

  • And we'll eat together.

  • Then we had a joint band, Israeli and Palestinian musicians,

  • and we did some belly-dancing.

  • If you don't know any, I'll teach you later.

  • But when we left, both sides,

  • they were crying because they did not want to leave.

  • Three years later, those relationships still exist.

  • Imagine with me if the one billion people

  • who travel internationally every year travel like this,

  • not being taken in the bus from one side to another,

  • from one hotel to another,

  • taking pictures from the windows of their buses of people and cultures,

  • but actually connecting with people.

  • You know, I remember having a Muslim group from the U.K.

  • going to the house of an Orthodox Jewish family,

  • and having their first Friday night dinners, that Sabbath dinner,

  • and eating together hamin, which is a Jewish food, a stew,

  • just having the connection of realizing, after a while,

  • that a hundred years ago, their families came out

  • of the same place in Northern Africa.

  • This is not a photo profile for your Facebook.

  • This is not disaster tourism.

  • This is the future of travel,

  • and I invite you to join me to do that, to change your travel.

  • We're doing it all over the world now,

  • from Ireland to Iran to Turkey,

  • and we see ourselves going everywhere to change the world.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I'm a tourism entrepreneur and a peacebuilder,

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A2 TED tourism palestinian jewish israeli refugee camp

【TED】Aziz Abu Sarah: For more tolerance, we need more ... tourism? (For more tolerance, we need more ... tourism? | Aziz Abu Sarah)

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    CUChou posted on 2015/02/15
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