East Jerusalem

My occupied Utopia

On jagged roads, unpaved and covered in mounds of dust, enclosed by a monstrous, towering wall slithering like the venomous snake that it is, I await the bus that will take me to the place I’ve waited to see for far too long. Dina Elmuti writes from occupied Palestine. 

An open letter: Father to father

Dear Hisam, father of Ahmed, may he rest in peace: I learned of the death of your son, Ahmed Musa, through a one-sentence newsflash on the Palestinian news station Ma’an last Tuesday: “Ahmed Musa, a young boy, was killed by a bullet of the occupying forces in Nil’in.” I was immediately overcome with shock and grief and bitter tears. And above all, that relentless feeling of powerlessness that I know too well. 

Seeing the Dome of the Rock

Some might think that I am overreacting about the short trip out of Gaza to a place only two hours away. But I would say to them that for me and so many other Palestinians in Gaza, it is not just a short trip, but rather a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The trip was a window that opened suddenly to allow in the fresh air and joy of life, and one that I may never experience again. Najwa Sheikh writes from occupied Jerusalem. 

The Palestinian Bar Mitzvah

My son Arab is 14, just past the age that his Jewish Israeli peers are celebrating their Bar Mitzvahs. This ceremony in Jewish culture is a rite of passage that marks a boy’s entrance into the realities and responsibilities of adulthood. And last week, my son experienced something akin to the Palestinian Bar Mitzvah. Bassam Aramin writes from occupied Jerusalem. 

Visiting Palestine

Yacoub Odeh was the guide for Middle East Children’s Alliance’s twelve-day tour through Palestine/Israel. He became a friend who told me and showed me things I know I will never forget. At age 67, Yacoub seems to carry with him the whole history of modern Palestine. And that is above all a history — and ongoing experience — of terrible loss. Deborah Agre writes about his story. 

Photostory: Climbing the Hill to Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Central Tel Aviv along the beach seems like such a relaxed and cosmopolitan place. From here one can ignore the cataclysmic events taking place to the north in Lebanon, to the south in Gaza, to the east in the West Bank and even further to the east in Iraq. I feel tempted to just go swimming here in the Mediterranean Sea, let my feet nourish the sand, and just relax on this beach to work on my tan. It would be easy to remain oblivious here in Tel Aviv to all the turmoil surrounding us here, but I must move on. I board the bus to Jerusalem, which is filled to capacity, and plop myself on the floor in the back, surrounded by young IOF soldiers. 

Palestine's Defeat?

In his book Memory for Forgetfulness, Mahmud Darwish, the eloquent Palestinian poet says, “I bring my search for meaning to a complete stop because the essence of war is to degrade symbols and bring human relations, space, time and the elements back to a state of nature, making us rejoice over water gushing on the road from a broken pipe”. This was written during the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982, a time that was very similar to the current situation in Palestine. 

WaSPR Delegation Diary 10: Two Traumatized Peoples: Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

Friday, March 11, 2005, Jerusalem — Peter and I head out and descend the stairs into Damascus Gate. We climb our way through the Labyrinthine Old City and wind up at Jaffa Gate at the Green Line, the border between Jordanian and Israeli controlled Jerusalem prior to 1967. We hail a taxi and head for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in West Jerusalem. We pass the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and then Hebrew University. To understand the sentiments of “Never Again!” and gain insights on the modern Jewish state’s obsession with security, it is essential to visit this place. 

The Election Labyrinth of East Jerusalem

January 9, 2005 — Many friends and family in the US have asked me whether or not I thought the Palestinian elections would be conducted in a free and fair manner. Today was an eye-opener with respect to the meaning of ‘free and fair’. Take a deep breath, dear reader, and I will take you through the many twists and turns taken by Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who were trying to vote in the Palestinian Authority elections. Of the 124,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem only six thousand were eligible to vote within East Jerusalem itself due to Israeli imposed restrictions. Molly Picon reports from Jerusalem. 

Palestine's people never say goodbye

Maysoon notices an odd formation of soldiers. In a row. Guns drawn. Rafael is walking towards them. There are no street lights on. He thinks he’s walking towards an empty van. She pulls him closer to her, and shots are fired. Yes. The soldiers shot into the crowd. No warning fire. No megaphone. Live bullets into a crowd of hundreds. It is so dark, my friends see the sparks fly out of the guns. They keep walking, slowly. Surely. Maysoon figures they won’t shoot in the direction of other soldiers, and she is right. They breeze through the checkpoint. No questions asked by either side. Once through, an Israeli soldier asks her where she’s from, in English. “Can you believe he wanted to have a normal conversation with me?”