Talking Jerusalem

June 2013

Ir Amim, Divided Jerusalem or United

Talking Jerusalem,

Living under occupation has always been a striving drive towards maintaining an identity that shapes Palestinians in general and in Jerusalem in particular despite the situation.

In spite the fact that it might have been a weakness decades along that we Palestinians pretended the non-existence of Israel; we were fighting a country that we considered a phantom, non-existent, until it finally dawned on us; we found ourselves going from one phase of recognition after the other with strange resilience somehow from one hand; in holding up tighter as always on our identity, and, giving up one piece after the other of what Palestine is to us on the other hand .It started with the declaration of independence in 1988 and was crowned in Oslo in 1993.

On the other side, and as Michael Ben Yair says:”Israel keeps ignoring history’s continuous lessons that teach us that no nation is prepared to live under another’s domination and that a suppressed people’s war of national liberation will inevitably succeed.”

Moreover, as exactly what Ben-Ami once observed: “Maybe what we lacked was not time. Maybe what we lacked was the readiness of both parties to reconcile themselves with the others. “

As much as a Palestinian in the mainstream Israeli view represents at his most a terrorist and at his norm a laborer with no education or class. An Israeli in the opinion of the mainstream Palestinian accounts for a soldier that at his best would assault him less, and at his norm a colonial; degrading, uprooting my presence, if not my existence.

It is sorrowful that we both as people failed to see each other. It is sad how most of us could do more than being brainwashed and controlled by facts imposed on us with no sense of propriety and respect to our humanity, to our presence to the least on the same land.

As much as I have, on a personal level failed to see Israel in the eye of an Israeli, in his thrive to make it happen, to finally have his fellow people in a place that they can call home; something I will maybe find forever hard to swallow, but we have gone a long way, with the recognition that our leadership has declared since Oslo. With all its good and bads, despite the enormous size and blockade Israel enclave us with, but we started recognizing its existence.

A harsh existence; it is true. Occupation cannot be decorated. It cannot but stay demonized. However, reconciliation can occur. However, reconciliation cannot take place when Israel is failing to recognize that what is happening in Jerusalem is not a unification of a city, but assault and discrimination of a city.

Today, Israelis are more in denial about the fact of occupation that restricts us all from moving towards reconciled agreement.

Reconciliation means that we can see each other; see each other on the same eye level, not a superior for an inferior. It means that we can look together for what is just for both of us.

Moreover, justice is not the eradication of Israel. Justice starts when Israel admits its fault towards the Palestinian people. Recognizing our mistakes is the first step towards reconciliation, the first step towards equality, the first step to unification.

Only then, it would not matter if a city were east or west. A wealthy West is not safe with a poor east.

Jerusalem today stands as the poorest city in Israel. Isn’t this a disgrace for capital.It does not matter if its the capital of Israel or Palestine, what is important is that what stands as the holiest place on earth for three religions, is shattered and fractured in poverty.

Jerusalem air is filled with vibes of frustration and passionate feelings against the other.

It is true that we Palestinians are weaker in given terms of seized control. A Palestinian can barely breathe the breath of survival. The non-stop consecutive attempts of Israeli governments to alter the character of Jerusalem in its eastern part by fostering a critical Jewish mass, both territorial and demographic.

The Palestinians are surrounded by a system that consists of a municipality, ministry of interior, court system, police and other governmental bodies, as well as non-official bodies as settler associations that do the ‘dirty work.’

All these factors only promote anger and hatred. Submission is just a temporarily act, that will change in the proper opportunity into a revolution.

It is true that people are striving to make a healthy living, and what we do is merely live. It appears like we try to adapt, imitate or follow Israeli more modern, democratic, the way of living. People are confused between a Palestinian state of affairs and a more stable Israel.

However, and despite all, in Jerusalem, Palestinians share what Rashid Khalidi states clearly about Palestinians as a whole: “It is not about emulating Israel, but to preserve an identity and set of institutions that are both Palestinian and Arab.

“ For Palestinians the contrast could not be greater: they have yet to achieve self- determination, independence, or statehood, they are only now painfully integrating their feeble Para-state, which grew up in exile, In an administration with the limited powers the Israelis allow them; they have an economy in a shambles after three decades of occupation and several years of intifada, they control virtually no resources and have no real allies in the world .the Palestinians, of course, do have one asset despite everything; a powerful sense of national identity, which we have seen they were able to develop and maintain despite extraordinary vicissitudes .”

Again, the word occupation should be the keyword that both sides should hold up to. Israel theoretically unifying the city does not serve it much. Regardless or the international laws, and the UNSC declaration in 1971 regarding Israeli de facto annexing of East Jerusalem: “ All legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the city of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties, transfer of the occupied section, are totally invalid and cannot modify the state. “

Even in 1980, when Israel aimed at legally entrenching the annexation, the UNSC again issued an explicit declaration regarding the invalidity of the actions under international law. “ All legislative and administrative measures and procedures were taken by Israel, the occupying power, which has altered or purport to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and, in particular, the recent “basic Law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith .“

As well as the numerous resolutions outlawing Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

So for Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel is de facto state of occupation as well.

I am not sure how much Israel behavior towards Jerusalemites in both entrenching and encroaching rights and obligations is serving itself in unification.

Palestinians are more than ever separated from Israelis. It is true that Palestinians struggle to maintain services they receive from the municipality and other governmental institutions, both maybe for staying steadfast in the city, and receiving better life opportunities, through different sectors and means. The walls and barriers that were built inside Jerusalem neighborhoods, as well as obstacles and fences outside the city separating Palestinians from Israelis, succeeded in creating real psychological barriers as well between both people.

It is true that a Palestinian seek to learn at the Hebrew University, speeds to learn Hebrew, apply in Israeli different working places, Palestinians stand in lines for social security services, and health care. Some even race to get Israeli citizenship. However, this is not for the love of Israel, it is for survival amid a little Palestinian leadership that seems to have neglected Jerusalemites and left them behind, amid their internal chaos for sustaining their continuation, and an Israeli apparatus than never seize an opportunity to get rid of them.

However, one can not say, that a significant opportunity is there, regardless of what the plan is, from both Palestinian and Israeli leadership. Jerusalem can never be annexed or divided. It is a city that for thousands of years survived all kinds of intrusions and invasions, and yet remained, as resilient as its people. Moreover, its inhabitants have never seized to be of one race or ethnicity. It is a city that will continue to embrace people’s faiths in all shapes.

We Palestinians cannot and will not get rid of Israelis; it is neither a possibility nor a wish. We need to stop nagging on what we assessed before and after. We need to look for a common ground that puts us together in a living condition that gives Jerusalem what it deserves.

The possibilities for solutions and common grounds exist and lay around us. At the end of the day, we have more in common than from what we have the world around us. We both found ourselves here to stay.

If Israel does not recognize my right as a human being, that is equal to its citizens; it will soon find itself in a situation where it will find it impossible to control those masses of what will become a majority sooner than later. Israel cannot continue to pretend that Palestinians are nothing but a less equal people that will take what is thrown or them, and the more entrenched they are, the better they behave.

Even if tomorrow a state of Palestine is declared with East Jerusalem as a capital, Israel still needs neighbors that can be lived with. The current situation makes it impossible for a separation or living.

As long as we exist, we will continue or fight or have our freedom. Moreover, our freedom is not just in a state of Palestine; freedom is in dignified life and equal opportunities and rights.

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