Is it safe to visit Ramallah (West Bank) as an interracial couple?
August 8, 2013 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I've been to Ramallah once before as a single guy (in the Summer of 2008), just walking across at the checkpoint in Jerusalem and grabbing a taxi, and I had a great time -- everyone was super friendly and extroverted, got by fine in English, fun shopping, tasty food, though I returned to Jerusalem at sundown so if it's really different at night I didn't see it. Now, I'm going back to Israel with my wife for the first time, and I want to show her Ramallah, but I want to double check first that this isn't a bad idea safety-wise for any reasons I might not be thinking of (security situation changing in the last 5 years, treatment of women travelers possibly different than treatment of men, etc.).

Additional background:

Me: Ethnically Jewish/white, American passport, speaks no Arabic
Her: Ethnically Indian (could maaaaybe be confused by someone at a glance for Middle Eastern / Pakistani but I doubt it), Australian passport, speaks limited Arabic

Traveling first week in September.
posted by Televangelist to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
Response by poster: Also seeking hotel recommendations near the city center :)
posted by Televangelist at 10:58 AM on August 8, 2013

Best answer: I just asked my coworker, who frequently travels to our office in Ramallah. She was there for all of July actually. She said that you should be absolutely safe and that your wife's ethnicity shouldn't pose any problem at all. (She herself is a black American woman.) Basically her only question was whether you're Israeli citizens (which would, presumably, cause more of a problem).
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:07 AM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not an Israeli citizen, no. :) Pretty Jewish-looking, but in the American sense, clearly not Israeli, and that wasn't a problem for me the last time I went.
posted by Televangelist at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2013

I don't think anyone can really tell you what the reaction would be to a couple that could be Jewish and Arab. It's not the average person you have to worry about. It's the craziest, angriest person you have to worry about. And there are some very angry people in the world there.

If I were doing this, I would suggest to my wife that she consider wearing clothes or jewelry that positively would identify her to a fanatic as an Indian.

Here in Quebec, you get picked on for not speaking French until the moment you say you're American. The moment you're not a stupid Canadian anglophone who didn't bother to learn French, and instead turn out to be a foreigner who would have no reason to know French, you're okay.
posted by Native in Exile at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2013

I've traveled across the globe, remote and popular. I've noticed the following:

Indians with darker skin can easily be confused for Egyptian, Mexican, South American, Malaysia, Indonesia, Caribbean, and Ethiopian. I've made a mistake thinking someone was Indian when in fact, they were Latin.

White Americans with facial hair and olive skin can just as easily be confused for Southern European, Spanish, Lebanese, Israeli, Turkish, Armenian.

Therefore, the likely assumption people will make is you're a European with an Egyptian wife - and, this assumption will be done with a drawn out mental yawn.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:38 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

You might find this article interesting. It discusses how Ramallah is for tourists.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2013

Mod note: Let's stick to specific info about Ramallah rather than general thoughts on ethnicity and travelling. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:28 AM on August 9, 2013

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