This is the first part of a three-post series.
September 12, 2009
Dearest friends and family,
Yesterday night, as the many nights that are passing.... in Jerusalem.... was so heavy to forget. I was sitting with the family, when we heard sirens, very loud noise, military cars, police cars, and military men speaking in the speakers in a loud voice passing in such a speed in the very narrow streets inside the old city. They all passed in front of my building, in the old city, Armenian Quarter (this is the only street that cars could drive on and could reach the Dome of the Rock and the Walling Wall).
Fahed, Salpy's boyfriend (both 19 years old) started saying that something happened, many cars are passing he said: " Aunty, something serious happened". I checked the news to find out that a Jewish settler started shooting Palestinians (two were injured) because he - as stated in the Hebrew news - felt afraid and anxious walking while many Palestinians (those that were on their way to pray in the Mosque) around him. People from Silwan (a neighborhood five minutes from my house and I could see it from my window) heard the shooting, became also anxious and scared and started throwing stones back at the military and police officers that surrounded the area, and that were arresting Palestinians from Silwan.
To hear Palestinians reactions to the attack, made me realize, once again, how dangerous the situation is. But, to see how the police and military treated Palestinians - although not new nor surprising - was very heavy on all of us. They kept people for hours standing on the side, checking each of them, harassing women and children. It was the military and police forces protecting "them" from "us". To find out once again, how our spaces and places are used to confine us, and how they are turned into a prison, was not an easy thing to absorb.
When looking from my window two hours later, one could see how the scene in my street was affected by the continuous power game played in my spaces for so many years. Just by standing on the window, one could hear the very noisy Jews, including Jewish mothers pushing their children's strollers, speaking in Hebrew in a loud voice, walking in the middle of the street while the soldiers and police officers with their riffles and guns are "protecting them" making sure they are safe; ON the other side, and on the side walk, Palestinian families, with young children carried on the shoulders of their fathers and mothers, walk, very close to the wall of my building, with such silence , the kind of silence that speaks much more than words. With their speedy manner of walking, and the noise of their shoes and women's heals, telling a story of humiliation, a story of fear, of power, and of determination to keep on walking.
All of a sudden I heard a young girl (maybe 6 or 7 years old) looking at the man by her and asking him - she saw me looking at her from my window, and raised her voice - ..she asked " why did they shoot at us father?
"Leish takho 3 aleina Yabba," I replied from my window, with a loud voice to maybe protest the imposed silencing, and allow the young girl to hear me, and maybe let the Jewish group that was walking to notice that we are here, and we speak Arabic - maybe to claim my voice.
I said, "Ma ahllaki Ya binet, w - ma asdq suallek - how wonderful... you are a young girl, and what a fair and just question." Then her father while looking up at me replied, "Yahoud Yabba Yahoud - Jews father, Jews" and the woman walking with them (I guess the mother) said with low voice, "Hasbiyya alla Wa Ne3meh Al Wakeel".
In seconds, the talks in Hebrew re-filled the street, and the silence of the other side filled the side walk...and I kept on looking from my window, wondering what should we do to change this situation? what?
I kept standing, looking from my window, and what I saw was very sharp. The side walk was filled with Palestinian men and women, men with their praying carpets (small carpet) on their shoulders, or with their young kids on their shoulders; while women holding their kids, holding the hands of their children, or carrying a plastic bag filled with stuff (it seems grocery to cook for the next day). When on the other side, in the middle of the street, Jewish prayers, men and women walking, with such confidence, such power, loud voices of both the young and the old ........................... and then they claim they "fear" Palestinians.
I am not sure where are we heading, but my Jerusalem became such a dangerous zone, such a suffocating zone, a place where necropolitics could be seen day and night, the kind of necropolitics that tell us who should live and who has no right to life. The little girl's question, why they shot us, reminded me of my questions to my own dad as a young girl, and the questions of my daughters to me......
Just wanted to share.
Nadera, Mother of Maro Tamar and Salpy, Daughter of Jamil and Evelyne
Nadera Shalhoub Kervorkian is an advisor with the Global Fund for Women and board member of Mada al-Carmel: Arab center for Applied Social Research, a grantee partner. Nadera lives in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem.