What if your neighbourhood 'waste management’ was a monthly bonfire? What if there was running water, but only six hours a day, sidewalks were a novelty, and playgrounds were unheard of? What if building permits were systematically denied to people like you, and another neighbour just received a municipal demolition order? What if 78% of your community lived below the poverty line and kids were running around outside all day because schools were too crowded to hold them? What if an 8 meter concrete wall blocked all the roads to your university campus? And what if, God forbid, there was an emergency and the ambulance took hours to arrive because it was stuck at a military checkpoint? What if gun-toting, racist Israeli settlers moved in up the road and daily marched in front of your grandparents house yelling “This is MY LAND” and occupied it without anybody stopping them? What if you are not able to practice the right to self-determination and someone else is deciding the future of your city - a future which seeks to exclude and transfer you? What if you decided you needed a break from the chaos, but moving out of town meant you could never come back?
These questions are only some of the realities faced daily by Palestinians living in occupied Jerusalem.
The Israeli Ministry of Interior sets its ‘demographic goal’ for Jerusalem at 70% “Jewish.”1 Consider what it means for the growing, modern “capital” of an alleged democracy to have a demographic goal to control the racial makeup of the city.2 In Jerusalem, where this is the reality, the occupation authorities face a difficult question: ‘How can we get the growing number of ‘Arabs’ to move out of the city?’ For each community and every Palestinian living in Jerusalem this ‘challenge’ translates into policies that aim to render the city unlivable.
Due to these systematic policies many young Palestinian couples and families do not have a choice but to flee from their homes. Many more choose to stay and stand up for their rights, dignity and future. Jerusalem is a growing centre for community based initiatives that resist the occupation and promote social, cultural, economic and political growth. Getting to know these initiatives and meeting the people behind them means getting to know the real Jerusalem.