Palestinian, 22 years

Employee of a joint Israeli-Palestinian company

“I studied nutrition and food processing and worked in a hospital. But the work I do now suits me better. This work is all about changing people’s lifestyles. We Palestinians have many wrong food habits: sweets, fat, junk food. So, we see a lot of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney diseases.

In addition to that, sports are not part of our culture. We do not go jogging in the streets, and we do not have access to facilities or empty spaces in Nablus for sports. One time, the local government organised a jogging event for women at six in the morning – because women jogging during daytime is not acceptable. At least a hundred women attended. Things are changing in Palestine, there is growing awareness of health issues.

This year, we had more than 3000 clients. Some come to our offices, where they get body analyses and awareness lectures. Most are online clients. In our health app, they can get personal advice from a dietician and exchange experiences and recipes amongst each other.

If our customers would know we are an Israeli company, it would definitely affect us. We might lose clients. So, as far as the clients know we are Arab-Israeli. We do not go into detail. I deal mainly with the manager’s Arab-Israeli partner.

Another problem is that the nutritious food comes from Israel. The stores here do not have any foods without gluten and sugar. Some Palestinians are against import from Israel. But at the end of the day, most of them buy it anyway because there is no alternative. Personally, it does not really matter to me. It is business. I just want my clients to have the best products. Whether they are produced in China or Israel does not interest me.

Sometimes, the office in Israel arranges a permit for us so we can visit Israel for a day. It can take weeks or months to get the permit. Sometimes, you just get rejected. You would not even know why, it is all very unpredictable. When I am on the other side, I do notice differences in culture, dress and lifestyle. Also, I have so often experienced that people think that Palestinians from the Westbank are of lesser value. They think we are poorly educated. They always think they know better. They look down on us. Not just the Jewish Israelis, but even the Arab-Israelis.

During the second intifada, when I was a child, Nablus was very dangerous. A war zone, with killings and blockades from the Israeli army. That is how I grew up. It did not change completely. I can still feel the occupation, but not as heavy as before. Working together in a business is fine. The manager does not interfere with the day-to-day business activities. We provide monthly updates on the finances and clients. We are in charge. I do not feel like I work for an Israeli company.”