Fairouz song for Jerusalem: Zahrat al-Mada’in (Flower among Cities)
Once upon a time in Jerusalem there was a bird who came to declare peace. The flock left and the bird stayed, felt cold, trembled, and died. Stories of scattered souls always belong to the loss of human beings, but this time it’s the soul of the holy city that is being scattered. I have never known the smell of Jerusalem, I’m not allowed. I have never felt the serenity of praying at Al Aqsa Mosque, I’m not allowed. No, I’m NOT a terrorist. I’m just from Palestine that is occupied by Apartheid Israel.
Luckily, days ago I was able to get Ahdaf Soueif’s book In the Face of Canons: A Palestinian Trip on her first visit to Jerusalem; with wonderful passion she describes the buildings, the roads, the stones and the smell of Jerusalem, and with a deep yearning soul I felt homesick. I went through the words and letters that describe the peaceful nature of the holy city, as a British tourist she was allowed to pass over Jerusalem; however I’m a Palestinian and…! Pardon, this is already an enormity!
Ahdaf Soueif in her book describes Jerusalem,
“Steps bring me into the spacious great Jerusalem: grass, trees and the wall of the city on my left. On the right, the wall of Jerusalem is shaped by the visible houses and churches, and just in front of me, the road rises to cross a white large stairway that leads to a wide stony room where you can see the shiny golden circular Dome of the Rock. On a near low monument I sit, where some small buildings belong to the Fatimid architecture, surround me and I feel a complete peace”
Wiping out History
It’s a fact of racism, one that is not hard to see, Al Quds (Jerusalem) where Islamic Mosques together with the old Christian churches witness the Israelis total ignorance of the religious history, and the barbaric actions of occupation, ethnic cleansing, disposition and destruction. Since the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Zionism is trying its best to wipe the history out of the old city, by all means possible. They steal, oppress, demolish, and displace its inhabitants just like what happened in 1948 with the mass deportation of millions of Palestinians from their cities and villages & massacres of civilians. They divided the city into two parts to build as many settlements as they can. The more Jews occupy, the less Arabs (Muslims and Christians) exist.
“Shocked” is a word that describes that feeling I had when I read about the Islamic buildings recently demolished on the northern side of Buraq Square by Israeli occupation authorities just meters away of the Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli occupation authorities have the political, legal and legitimate cover for the atrocities they commit. The native citizens have no right to protest against it or prevent it. A reception hall, police station, a museum and a new entry for the tunnels under the Western Wall that surround al Aqsa Mosque is the new planned project instead of a building that belongs to ages of history.
Following the process of Judaization of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), in 2011 the Israeli occupation authorities started the establishment of a biblical garden between Al-Sahera Gate, one of the old gates of Al-Quds , and the road of the tribes. In the same year, Israeli authorities bulldozed over 100 gravestones in a 12th-century Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem called Ma’man Allah, which is considered one of the oldest and largest Muslim graveyards in Palestine.
As a person who lives in Gaza Strip, I recognize the ironic, yet true, fact ythat while Zionists are eradicating whatever Islamic or Christian Arab features not only in Al Quds but everywhere else in occupied Palestine, Palestinians in Gaza are keeping a very peaceful, green graveyard that have graves of British soldiers of the great war 1917, who are actually both Christians and Jews. Religion is a moral norm, but this is not honored in Israel. Apartheid is immoral. Period. Our being the wrong ‘ethnic group’ for the Zionists means we are denied the most explicit and basic human rights, yet our land and history are a right to have not a privilege that apartheid gives.
To the land of peace we will return, in the city of peace I will pray. The gates of the old city shouldn’t be closed in the face of us to pray inside the mosques and churches. Brutality has no place in a city that calls out loud for peace and humanity, occupation has no place not only in Jerusalem but also in historic Palestine. Justice, Freedom and Equality are fair enough to have a land for all people, live on one land, having the same rights regardless of their race, religion, ethnics, color or identity.