Arabic classes began today

by ray goodlass

After the Peace Conference in Istanbul I’m now in Occupied East Jerusalem, which to me and millions of others, is in Palestine, though the Israelis have annexed it, which the rest of the world doesn’t recognise. Unlike last year I wasn’t interrogated when I asked for an Israeli visa, though on leaving Turkey I had to provide documentary proof of the Arabic language program I have signed up for.

So I began my Arabic classes at Al Quds Uni (AQU) in Occupied East Jerusalem today. It was hard work, and as I’m the only student it is quite intense – no slacking! My tutor is Mais, a young lecturer who has also taught Arabic in the US. She is very patient with me, thank goodness.

Today we focussed on greeting type words, which I succeeded in learning, though whether I’ll remember them is a moot point. Pronunciation is a key aspect, but I’m beginning to get the hang of it.

Though I signed up for Conversational Palestinian Arabic, Mais is keen that I learn Arabic script as well, which I appreciate, not just because it will b e useful, but also because I will be paying respect to the culture if I pay attention to its script. Does that make sense?

I also learnt about cultural activities and study tours conducted by AQU’s Centre for Jerusalem Studies, which I’m keen to do. First one is next Saturday.

Later today I visited one of my favourite Palestinian places, which is also one of my favourite bookshops in the world – the Educational Bookshop in Saladin Street, which is near my hotel. I bought some books (about Palestine, of course), and also picked up leaflets o up-coming cultural events. Great!

I’ll try and do a progress report each day on what I have learnt and experienced.