Haifa in Arabic: Series of Tours for University Students

The Arab Culture Association organized in the last few weeks a series of tours for students of the Rawda Bshara Atallah Scholarship, sponsored by the Galilee Foundation in London, under the title ‘Haifa in Arabic’ guided by tour guide Bilal Dirbas.

Almost 100 students participated in 5 tours which started last Sunday, September 13th, and continued till Thursday, September 17th.

The tours began in Haifa from the neighborhood of Wadi Al Nisnas at the headquarters of the Arab Culture Association and continued to the municipal garden that overlooks the old city of Haifa where they can witness the scheme to wipe out the city’s Palestinian landmarks such as the churches, mosques and the clock tower, which the tall buildings hide.

Students then went through a tour at the “Anglo Palestina” Bank which the colonialist Jewish agency established; then through “Hanatir Square” (Paris Square), where they performed activities in which they turned to the residents and local vendors in Jaffa Street near the square, and they got acquainted with the city’s history and present from the stories of its residents.

The tour continued to the Jreineh Mosque, the Clock Tower, and the Independence Mosque where Shiekh Iz AlDin AlQassam preached, then continued to Faisal’s Column, and Wadi Al Salib where the gentrification and Judaification of Palestinian sites are most apparent.  The tour ended at the “House of Grace” which is the Greek Catholic Church in Haifa, where the students witnessed how it’s been engulfed by buildings by comparing old pictures from before the Nakbah and after, and they were able to see the occupation’s scheme to blur and erase the Palestinian presence in the city.

Scholarship program coordinators, Moustafa Rinawi and Lubna Touma, emphasized “the tours in the scholarship program introduce students to the history of Palestine through walking tours. This year we decided to do the tours in Haifa and call it ‘Haifa in Arabic’ in order to introduce the city’s history and present; to show how the Nakbah is still ongoing, not just an event that happened in the past, by highlighting what the city represents and suffers though attempts to erase its Arab identity.”

The ‘Haifa in Arabic’ tours is part of the educational program of the Rawda Bshara Atallah Scholarship this year, in addition to other educational days and workshops during the school year. The Scholarship program, which the Galilee Foundation sponsors, has opened registration to the new school year last week to first and second-year B.A. students attending Palestinian and Israeli universities, and registration is ongoing till October 5th.