Boulder City Council officially made the Palestinian city of Nablus a Boulder Sister City on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. City Council welcomed the acting mayor of the Nablus municipality to a ceremony to sign a new partnership agreement. KGNU’s Roz Brown says it took nearly six years to make the West Bank city of Nablus Boulder’s eighth sister city because many residents lobbied against it – arguing that the designation would suggest Boulder has chosen sides in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nonetheless, following a three-hour public hearing last December, council voted 7-to-2 to support the designation. Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones led the ceremony on Tuesday and noted that in addition to Nablus, Boulder has sister city relationships with Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Jalapa, Nicaragua, Kisumu, Kenya, Lhasa, Tibet, Manté, Mexico, Yamagata, Japan and Yateras, Cuba.
“This recognition encourages an exchange of diverse cultures and programs,” said Jones.
Boulder joins a handful of American cities with sister city relationships in Palestine while more than 50 American cities, including Denver, have sister cities in Israel. Nablus Acting Mayor Ass’ad Salwalmeh spoke through a translator from the Nablus International Relations Office to say it’s an overwhelming feeling that makes him quite proud to have such a relationship with Boulder.
Essrea Cherin, co-founder of the Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project, shepherded the issue through the city for nearly six years.
“It’s heartwarming,” said Cherin. “My dream is to bring Debki dancing, the traditional Palestinian folk dancing to the Front Range and offer workshops to share the Nablus culture locally.”
Cherin says being an official sister city opens up several opportunities and lends legitimacy to the organization’s goals. For example, with sister city status, Boulder Valley School children will now be able to participate in the Nablus project’s pen pal program.
Note: This post has been updated to correct that council voted 7-to-2 to support the designation.