Which side of Jerusalem do you know ? Part 1

From my visit in the summer, around May 16 2015,

I titled this post as “Which side of Jerusalem do you know?” because Jerusalem has been split into 2 sides, unfortunately. If you ask why? Then I will answer you to ask the Israelis, ask the Jews in Jerusalem. Ask them: Why is Jerusalem split into half?

But then I will advice you, to ask the Palestinians right after. Ask the Palestinians why is Jerusalem divided into half? Ask them how do they feel about it? Ask them how much do they have freedom living in the city of Jerusalem? Ask them how safe is it to move around from the East side of Jerusalem into the West side of Jerusalem?

It sounds crazy. When I first learned about this whole city split into two, the Jews on one side and the Palestinians “Arabs” on the other, I went crazy. I said people are crazy, power is evil, money is complete devil. This can not be real. But, it is.

The east side of Jerusalem; is where the Palestinians live. It is where the old city is, where the Arabs live, the Arabs of Jerusalem, although those Arabs are Palestinians, but of course we have to follow what the state of Israel like to refer them to. You might think the Palestinians are living in complete freedom, peace, and serenity, but of course not. They must be threatened every day. The State of Israel wants all of Jerusalem. So imagine what sort of life the Palestinians are living. Feeling safe only in half side of the city, being watched by Israeli armed men, being chased by Jewish boys, and being chanted at “prayers of death” into their faces.

And so what is in West of Jerusalem? Why do they still want the East side of Jerusalem? Isn’t the most beautiful authentic, houses in the west side? Didn’t the richest of Jerusalem live in the west? What happened to the West side of Jerusalem? It was taken by force like the rest of Palestine. Palestinians who lived in the West side before the 1948, lost their homes, their right of return, and their freedom to even visit where they were once born, where their ancestors lived. I will be sharing photos from the west side of Jerusalem in my next post.

But today, and here, I have shared photos from the border. You will notice the wall, and at the end of the album, you will notice a sign that is between Ramallah and Jerusalem, stating that if you enter the West Bank area, where the Palestinians live, then you are in danger. Sounds ridiculous, but hilarious to the Palestinians. Dangerous? Why? What are Palestinians? Last I checked, I am one. Why am I dangerous? Am not sure again. Politics create terror, they create racism, they create hate, they create violence, and then we follow them and call ourselves Israelis! Proud to be a racist? or Proud to be a creator of terror?

I have also shared a lot of the architecture in Jerusalem. Arabian. Authentic, Historic. Arabesque. Ottoman. Jerusalem is Arabic. You can never change culture. You can never change history. Jerusalem is Arabian. I shared photos of architecture and dates that date back to way before the 1948. Streets names that are all in Arabic. And the architecture, the architecture speaks it all. It speaks the truth, reality. How can the bricks lie to us? Until when will the Jewish immigrants live in lies? When the Palestinians are only asking you to live in Peace?

I then shared photos from the Wind Mill Street. It is a very wealthy Jewish quarter as well. Jewish Israelis living in Arabian houses. Authentic beautiful Arabian houses. If they say they have been living there from before the 1948, then they must be Jewish Palestinian, and if not, then those houses must belong to Palestinians who were evacuated by force somewhere else. Do they never wonder? Or question? Dream? Or think for a moment or two? I am sure they do, just for a moment and then they would wash that thought away. How can they live with the ugly truth. But I keep my slight thread of hope. I keep it and I share it with the Jews and the Palestinians I know, and I pray that one day, humanity will be back into all our hearts, and we find away to fight the terrorist state and bring peace to the people of the land.

Morning Diary: Visiting Jerusalem, the Old city & Al Aqsa | اليوم الثاني عشر: زيارتي في القدس، البلد القديمة و الاقصى

May 3rd 2015,

On a beautiful morning, I decided to take myself to Jerusalem. To spend my whole day inside Jerusalem, and precisely inside the old city of Jerusalem. Being in Jerusalem, nowadays feel like a dream to most Arabs. Since most of them are denied entry. A place that was built for all human kind. With many visible Arabian architecture and essence. With Islamic, Christian and Judaism monuments. This land is historic and symbolic to people from all over the world.

Politics: The Arabian architecture is everywhere. In both the West and the East of Jerusalem. The Arabs foot prints are everywhere. The Arabs have lived in Jerusalem since forever. To each Arab, there is a thread of belonging and curiosity to what “Al Quds” Jerusalem is all about.

So why is it so restricted to visit Jerusalem today? Today, it is still under the control and occupation of the Jewish State of Israel. Worst of all, the restrictions are mostly on the Arabs, and on mostly, the Palestinians. The Palestinians, who are the natives of the Holly Land.

If you are in the West Bank, and to those who don’t know so much about the West Bank; it is a small zone inside of Palestine, or what is known as Israel. This small part is surrounded by an ugly wall of barrier. Worst than what used to be the Berlin Wall. It separates the land of Palestine from what is under control of the State of Israel, and the other part “West Bank & Gaza” that is supposedly not.

Back to the point, that if you are in the West Bank, and wish to visit Jerusalem, that is literally 15 minutes away by car, then you need permission. Of course from the state of Israel. And the chances are for you to wait days, for denial. Arabs who are around Palestine, and are half an hour away by car, for example from Jordan, then you also have no right or freedom to enter Jerusalem. You also need a permission. Chances are, you wait for weeks to receive denial of access. As for Gaza which is probably around an hour and a half away by car, thinking about visiting Jerusalem is prohibited, imagine visiting!!!

I was in Ramallah, and I decided to go to Jerusalem. I have a VISA that allows me access. I was lucky not to receive a deny of entry. But since I came into Jerusalem from the West Bank, I had to go through the Wall of Barrier and I had to go through a very ugly racist humiliating Kalania checkpoint. With Israeli armed boys and girls the age of 18 years old treating everyone coming down from the bus including both elderly and children with complete disrespect and discrimination. As if everyone coming from the West Bank is an animal and not human. “The ugly truth”

My experience: Getting to the story of my trip, I ran with all the thirst I have in me for myself, for my family and my friends to the old city of Jerusalem “Al Balad al Qadima”. Walked towards the walled area, the Jerusalem Gate. I walked inside the famous “Bab al Amod” Damascus gate, as I felt my smile glow inside and outside my body. I was in zen. I couldn’t stop my senses from drifting to space as I was listening to the Arabs, to the Adan, to the people yelling out what they are selling in their tiny shops, looking at the Ka’ek, colorful garments and sweets, smelling the fresh falafel being fried, the hummus on the tables, the men in red tarboush, the turkish coffee as you walk by, walking the old rustic streets and arched doors, and then your eyes are hit by a very ironic view of armed Israeli young soldiers walk in between what all looked like a very old Arabian film, and some Israeli flags on top of an old Palestinian man who is chanting in Arabic his love for Palestine, and then you wake up from your zen and remember that freedom has been taken away from you. I feel so dramatic, but it is emotional once you are there.

As I was back to my senses, I realized the “Duhur Adan” the call for prayers was on from the Al Aqsa mosque. Al Aqsa mosque is one of the most holly mosques for Muslims. And since it is in an occupied area, it is like a dream reaching it. So I literally hurried up to walk between the old tiny streets of the old city of Jerusalem heading towards Al Aqsa mosque. I arrived to dream land. I started thinking of how my parents would feel and what my mother would be saying if she was right there beside me. I thought about all my friends who are still dreaming of making it once to pray in Al Aqsa mosque, I couldn’t help but cry from both inner happiness, and inner guilt. I felt guilty for being able to make it without them.

I entered the Mosque and prayed, meditated, and sent prayers to free this beautiful land from the cruelty of the zionists, and i prayed for my loved ones who are dreaming to come here to have a chance in this lifetime. I then walked out and walked between the old monuments there, and walked the gate from the inside, walking each door gate, and I headed towards the Golden Dome Mosque which keeps attracting the corner of your eyes as you walk around it. If you notice the architecture on these mosques you will notice the resemblance of the same architecture you will see on all the houses all around occupied Palestine “Israel” and this is how you know that it belonged to the Arabs.

I then went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which takes your breath away before entering. Just looking at it’s ancient walls, and ancient door. You feel some sort of serene energy just enter your soul. It is so rustic and beautiful. You can smell it’s ancient history and you can feel the unmemorable amount of people who stepped foot into it. It was too dark and too packed for me to take so many photos, but being inside makes you feel you have entered a space between life and death. A space where all your senses are shut and only your third eye is open. Silence will come upon you from the load of wonder.

I then ended my trip by meeting my friend who took me to walk the gate from above to see the whole city of Jerusalem. I can not express the happiness I felt. I felt open hearted, I felt like a bird with wings to fly, I felt like I was freed from something I didn’t know I was hold hostage in, and I felt the drive to free millions of others who feel just the same.

I was then invited for dinner, for a Palestinian dish made by a Palestinian, Maqoubeh. Delicious.

اليوم أخدت القرار إني أروح أقضي يوم كامل في القدس. و بالأخص، البلد القديمة.

 أول ما وصلت، ركضت باتجاه البلد القديمة. كان عندي عطش أشوفها مرة ثانية، وشعرت إني بدي أشوفها عن حالي و عن أهلي وأصدقائي اللي مش قادرين يزوروها. وصلت البلد القديمة، و دخلت من باب العمود، وأنا عم بمشي، إجاني شعور فرح لا يوصف، حسيتو طالع من روحي. بطلت حاسة بوجود جسمي على الأرض، حسيت حالي دخلت حلم بين صوت العرب و الأذان و اللي بنادي للبيع من محله الصغير، عشت بخيال بين شكل الكعك و ألوان السكريات، ريحة الفلافل الطازا و الحمص اللي عالطاولات، الختايرة اللي لابسين طرابيش حمرا و ريحة القهوة اللي بتتوزع بكل مكان، شعور المشي على الأرض اللي حجارها عتيقة و البواب و المداخل اللي من أقواس منحوت بزواياها تراث وتاريخ هالأرض المقدسة. و فجأة، بشوف جنود إسرائيلية بيمشوا بنص اللي كنت مفكرته حلم، و بشوف علم إسرائيل فوق زلمة ختيار بغني عن حبه و عشقه لأراضي فلسطين. و هيك بصحى و بتذكر إني مش بحلم أو فيلم عربي وبرجع للواقع البشع بإنو حريتي و حرية أهلي مسروقة.

بس رجعت لحواسي، رجعت أسمع تكملة الأذان، آذان الظهر، فاستعجلت للوصول إلى الأقصى.  بس وصلت و شفت الأقصى و قبة الصخرة من بعيد إتذكرت أهلي وأصدقائي اللي نفسهم بهالزيارة، بلشت أتخيل أهلي معي وأسمع شو ممكن إمي تكون بتقلي، فما قدرت أمسك دموعي و صرت أبكي. بكى فرح و شكر لوصولي و بكى من شعور الذنب إني من غير حبايبي.

فتت المسجد الأقصى و بلشت أصلي و أدعي ليتحقق اليوم اللي بتحرر فلسطين من بشاعة الصهاينة، و دعيت إنو كل اللي بنفسه يزور الأقصى تيجي الفرصة ويقدر يعيش هاللحظات اللي أنا عشتها. كملت بعدين حوالين جدار المسجد و روحت على قبة الصخرة اللي بتشد عينك كل ما كنت حواليها.

روحت بعدها على كنيسة القيامة، اللي من أول ما توصل بتحس بتاريخها من حجارها العتيقة و بوابها التاريخية. الشعور لا يوصف، فالتاريخ اللي فيها بيقضي عليك بشعور الروحانية و الهدوء الداخلي. حسيت حالي بعالم تاني وأنا في داخل الكنيسة، زي كأني لا عايشة و لا ميتة. كل الحواس بتسكر و السكوت و السكون بسير بداخلك.

خلصت رحلتي بلقاء صديق، أخدني فوق السور تبع البلد القديمة. مشينا عالسور و قعدنا نتفرج على كل القدس. كان الشعور روعة، حسيت حالي أسعد إنسانة، و حسيت حالي بقدر أطير من شعور الحرية، حسيت و كأنو في شي بداخلي كان مسكر علي و انطلق وحسيت بدي  أساعد الناس لتحس بهي الحرية اللي حسيت فيها.

كان يوم فلسطيني رائع حتى عشاي كان مقلوبة فلسطنية من إيدين و بيت فلسطيني.

Morning Diary: Ethnically Cleansed Villages of Jerusalem and why I believe the state of Israel is a terrorist State | اليوم الحادي عشر: في قرى القدس المهجرة و المدمرة

May 1st 2015,

I spent a beautiful week in the Central and North side of occupied Palestine. And then decided to head back to Jerusalem and the West Bank areas for the following week. Here I am now with a friend who knows way too much about ethnic cleansed villages, destroyed villages and occupied houses. And I feel the urge of sharing with you just a little something of what most Palestinians had to go through in 1948; for the sake of the immigrants of Israel and the establishment of the state of Israel. What you will read below might be very disturbing, but it is the honest fact of what has happened in the lands of Palestine or to what most of you today like to call it Israel.

Our first stop was in an ethnically cleansed and destroyed village of Zakaria that was part of the Hebron Subdistrict, which today is known as Moshav Zekharia. Moshav Zekharia was established in 1950 by immigrants from Kurdistan to Israel. The village of Zakaria was able to sustain itself from evacuation until the year 1950, when Ben-Gurion, Sharett and Weitz decided to force its villagers to evacuate, having most of them end up in what are still refugee camps today. While visiting the destroyed village of Zakaria, we were able to find the Zakaria mosque and a school building that takes you back to 415 C.E. in between modern houses that were built around and over all the destroyed houses of the evacuated Palestinians.

As we were driving around, thoughts of the people who live in these houses kept coming through our minds. Do these people know what they have been part of? Do these people know that the kids of the owners of this land are now starving in one of the refugee camps? Jailed in the refugee camp? Have no right to even visit their lands? Do these people ask about those refugees at all? Do they question their rights of return? Do they care at all or sleep at night? Do they believe that life will just go on?

Our next stop was in Suba of Jerusalem. Another village that was depopulated and destroyed in 1948. Suba has many ruins remains, and as you walk inside the destroyed village and in between its ruins you can not avoid feeling of heat & sadness that just grows inside your body. You will find ruins of the Belmont Castle, that dates back to the 1986. Suba was attacked several times by the Haganah and then conquered by the Palmach. And like all the villages, many Palestinians were killed and the rest were forced out of the village and later all the houses were destroyed. Today you will find a Tzova Kibutz that was established right after the evacuation and destroying of Suba Village. If you notice the names of the villages have minor changes from Arabic to Hebrew. And all established Kibutz or Moshav was established right next to or over the Palestinian ruins.

Our third and last stop happened to be in one of the most wonderful occupied villages of Jerusalem “Ein Karem”. Again this village was also depopulated in July of the 1948. And what is so special yet heart aching about Ein Karem, is that it is one of the very few villages that survived with its houses. Of course they are houses of Palestinians who were killed or forced out and today, all the houses are lived by immigrants of the state of Israel. Many houses have Arabic calligraphy, quotes from the Quran engraved into its walls, yet an Israeli flag and name is printed on its door. It is said that John the Baptist was born in Ein Karem, which many beautiful churches are found in the village. A village with multiple churches, Arabian architected houses, arabic scripture engraved, yet only lived by Jewish Israelis. And they never think about it, and they still sleep at night. So how do you feel about all this? And this is just 1% of the story.

**You will see many cactus trees as you enter most of the settlements and Moshav’s in occupied Palestine “Israel” which indicates that this used to be a Palestinians village. Palestinians are known to have planted and surrounded each of their villages with cactus trees. And it is very hard to get rid of those cactus trees, so they stay for evidence.

To learn more about Destroyed villages in Palestine visit Tarek Bakri.

من وين بدي أبلش! قعدت أسبوع بأجمل مناطق فلسطين المحتلة في المثلث و الشمال. و بعدين أخدت قرار للذهاب إلى مناطق القدس و الضفة. أخدني صديق بيعرف كثير عن القرى المهجرة وأصحاب البيوت اللي أخدوها اليهود وقت الاحتلال.

فبلشنا أول زيارة في قرية زكريا، اللي بتقع في محافظة الخليل. و التي قاومت الاحتلال بمساعدة الجيوش العربية خلال سنة ١٩٤٨. و للأسف الصهاينة نجحوا باحتلال القرية في عام ١٩٥٠. و قاموا بقتل و تهجير أهل القرية و هدموا بيوتها، و ما ضل إلا آثار أكم من بيت ساكن فيها يهود، و مسجد زكريا اللي ما حدا بزوره ولا بقام فيه الأذان. وكمان مدرسة لسه معالمها واضحة. للأسف هالقريك الحلوة اليوم صارت مستوطنة إسرائيلية باسم موشاف زكاريا.

القرية التانية الي زرناها اسمها صوبا. اللي بتكون من ضواحي القدس. و اللي اليوم اذا بتزوروها بتلاقوا آثار كثيرة لسه موجودة. القرية تهجرت و دمرت بـ ١٩٤٨. و اليوم في مستوطنة باسم تزوفا بدل صوبا.  و همه معروفين بسعيهم لتغير الأسامي العربية بأسامي عبرية شبيهة.

و آخر قرية زرناها كانت من أجمل القرى اللي بشوفها “عين كارم” و اللي بتتميز بوجود بيوتها الأصلية اللي ما تدمرت. البيوت موجودة بس مشتاقة لأهلها اللي تهجروا وسكنها اليهود. معالم البيوت عربية وحيطانها محفورة بآيات قرآنية وأقوال عربية بتعكس عروبتها، وكنائس كتيرة بتدل على أصل قرية عين كارم و مع هيك سكانها اليوم كلهم يهود و علم إسرائيل برفرف عبيوتها الحزينة.

خلصنا هاليوم في القدس الجميلة و يا ريت بتمنى كل العرب اللي بقدروا يزورا فلسطين يروحوا حتى و لو هي تحت الاحتلال. خلي اليهود يشوفونا و يتعرفوا علينا و يعرفوا إصرارنا لحق العودة و حق أهلينا الي تعذبوا و تهجروا وتشتتوا بالعالم عشان تقام دولة عنصرية لليهود.

للمعرفة عن المزيد عن القرى المهجرا زورا صفحت طارق البكري