A New Jerusalem Day
I am an East Jerusalemite.
For those who are not familiar with Jerusalem’s recent history, in 1948 my family, along with thousands others who lived in West Jerusalem, fled the city to Jordan after hearing about the gruesome Deir Yasin massacre. The city was divided in the Nakba (1948 War); Arabs lived in East Jerusalem which was under Jordanian rule, while Jews lived in West Jerusalem under Israeli rule. After the war, my family wanted to return to their home in West Jerusalem, but they were only able to live in East Jerusalem. Until 1967 Arabs were not able to cross to West Jerusalem unless they had permits. In the 1967 war, the rest of Jerusalem was annexed by Israel, 'granting' us (East Jerusalemites) a strange sort of status where we are marginalized residents lacking equal rights, even though we are expected to pay taxes and national insurance to the state of Israel.
When I think of a new Jerusalem, I imagine my husband who holds a West Bank ID being able to live, work, and drive in Jerusalem. I envision having our old house in Musrara, which was taken away from my grandpa and his family in the 1948 war.
When I dream of a new Jerusalem, I think of all those who are no longer here. I wish to see my cousin living here, with her Jerusalem ID reinstated, since she lost it after living in the United States for three years. An Israeli governmental ministry sent her a letter falsely accusing her of having lived outside “Israel” for seven years, revoking her status and right to live here!
My desire for a new Jerusalem does not stop at my personal wishes and desires; it goes beyond that to encompass the welfare and wishes of everyone who lives or has lived in Jerusalem before 1948. Therefore, I would love to see a Jerusalem where everyone has the right to live in the city and worship in their holy places. I would like to see a Jerusalem that has a public transportation system that serves both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, not only Israeli Jews.
I would like to see a new Jerusalem that has an excellent public education system for both Palestinians and Israelis, one that rectifies the massive gap in educational provisions and standards. This Jerusalem would offer plentiful educational and career opportunities for young men and women, particularly those on the margins, like East Jerusalemites.
I imagine a Jerusalem where my brother and I can walk around the Old City without him being stopped by police who ask for his ID, just because he’s a young Palestinian male.
In this new Jerusalem an average Israeli Palestinian or East Jerusalemite Palestinian family can purchase a house, instead of renting their entire lives, or building illegally, because they can never afford any type of real estate or be granted permission from the city to build. I wish for a Jerusalem where those of us who lost property can return and reclaim our beautiful ancestral homes.
In summary, I envision a new Jerusalem where there is no difference between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods, where all areas have good schools, enough housing, equal opportunities and enough recreational parks for everyone.