Introducing Palestine VR
Today, a first-of-its-kind virtual reality app was launched to give users access to everyday life in Palestine and allow them to see highlights from the trip Israel banned U.S. Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from participating in. The app, called Palestine VR, is available on Android and iOS and was developed by the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), a non-governmental organization that shares the story of Palestine with the world.
Through the app, users can see historic and sacred sites like the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and how Israeli settlers are pushing Palestinians out of their homes in the Old City; take in how massive the separation wall surrounding Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem is; walk the streets of the Old City of Hebron with a former Israeli soldier and Palestinian human rights advocate who share how violent attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians living in Hebron turned the business center into a ghost town; or get to know members of the Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, who are protecting their homes and school from being demolished by the Israeli government. A full list of available VR videos is available below.
“Those who visit Palestine and are exposed to the reality of oppression, discrimination and disiplacement are always moved by what they see. With Palestine VR, we want to bring this reality to people directly all over the world. We hope it inspires them to stand for justice and on the right side of history.” said Salem Barahmeh Executive Director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy.
In August, Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were scheduled to participate in a landmark delegation to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Though they only planned to visit Palestine, Israel controls all ports of entry and decided to bar the two members of Congress from participating in the trip. The move was encouraged by President Trump but widely condemned by elected U.S. officials. The entry denial was particularly painful for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who is Palestinian American and planned to visit her grandmother while on the trip.
Had the Congresswomen been permitted to visit and carry out their duties as elected officials, they would have met with Palestinian and Israeli civil society and peace groups working to address systemic and longstanding injustice. Palestine aims to give viewers a glimpse of life in Palestine despite Israel's routine entry denial and attempts to cut Palestinians off from the rest of the world.
Videos available through
• Welcome video by PIPD
• Stops in Jerusalem with Dr. Ali Qleibo, Palestinian anthropologist from Jerusalem and Daniel Seidemann, founder of Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem
• A tour of Hebron with a former Israeli soldier from Breaking the Silence and Palestinian human rights advocate from Youth Against Settlements
• A tour of Gaza by Yomana Al Sayeed, a university student
• Interviews with the Khan Al-Ahmar and Pope Mountain communities in E1 with Fadi Quran, from Avaaz
• A look into Birzeit University by Carmen Keshek
• A tour of Ramallah by the world’s youngest journalist, Jana Jihad
• A tour of Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem by Munther Amira, community leader