The Palestine-Israel Journal is a quarterly of MIDDLE EAST PUBLICATIONS, a registered non-profit organization (No. 58-023862-4).
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Editorial Board

Adnan Abdelrazek

Danny Rubinstein

Sam'an Khoury

Daniel Bar-Tal

Walid Salem

Galia Golan

Gershon Baskin

Hind Khoury

Edy Kaufman

Ata Qaymari

Benjamin Pogrund

Nafez Nazzal

Dan Jacobson

Jumana Jaouni

Moshe Maoz

Munther Dajani

Khuloud Khayyat Dajani

Izhak Schnell

Lucy Nusseibah

Meir Margalit

Menachem Klein

Ali Abu Shahla

Ilan Baruch

Hanna Siniora

Yehudit Oppenheimer

Mossi Raz

Susie Becher

Frances Raday




Vol.21 No.2, 2015 / Young Voices from Jerusalem

Roundtable

Young Palestinian Voices from East Jerusalem

Held on Saturday Oct. 24 in East Jerusalem with seven young Palestinians


On October 24, 2015, the Palestine-Israel Journal (PIJ) convened a roundtable discussion in East Jerusalem on the topic of “Young Voices from Jerusalem. The discussion summarized below was held according to the Chatham House Rule, as the seven participants asked not to be quoted or cited by name. PIJ Co-Editor Ziad AbuZayyad was the moderator of the discussion.

Ziad AbuZayyad: What is your feeling about what is happening nowadays in East Jerusalem in general?

Participant: We are going through a stage of what I call “political chaos” — the Palestinians don’t know what they want, and the Israelis don’t know what they want. At the same time, there is an accumulated pressure that’s been growing in the Palestinian territory for over 10 years, and what we are seeing nowadays is an outcome of that accumulated pressure that is being expressed in violence.

Participant: There are several reasons behind the recent escalation in the situation: Partly the youth are frustrated with the internal Palestinian situation and frustrated with the failure of reconciliation process between Hamas and Fateh, which led to political divisions within Palestinian society. These divisions and problems don’t fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian youth, but they can’t confront the leadership. Still, the Jerusalemite youth are directly or indirectly affected by the Israeli authorities, and they are being treated as enemies, not as citizens or residents: They are not allowed to build, East Jerusalem villages and neighborhoods are isolated, high taxes, fines, racist treatment they receive at the Israeli municipality authorities, racist treatment at Israeli courts, besides the attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque.

AbuZayyad: As a Jerusalemite, do you feel safe and secure?

Participant: Honestly, depends on where you live. If you live in Palestinian neighborhoods, you feel safe, but if you live in Palestinian neighborhoods on the borders with Jewish neighborhoods, you don’t feel safe at all. Traveling around in between these areas is dangerous.

Participant: We (Palestinians in East Jerusalem) are all in danger; going to work is not safe, especially in mixed (Arab/Jewish) workplaces.

AbuZayyad: This feeling of being in danger — is it because of recent incidents in Jerusalem, or did it exist before?

Participant: Feelings of insecurity and being in danger existed before, and in most times, but the recent incidents increased the level of danger. The Israelis are randomly executing Palestinians in cold blood, and afterwards they frame them with accusations. Some of us here at this roundtable discussion were attacked by the Jewish terrorist group Price Tag. They burned our cars and wrote on the wall racist slogans. In recent years, there were several provocative attacks by this group on Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Economic Situation, Housing, IDs in East Jerusalem

Participant: As a businessman, I would like to focus on the economic aspects in East Jerusalem and the problems surrounding this. Jerusalem lacks work opportunities, lacks investments. Part of it is because of the Israeli occupation, but the blame is also on the Palestinians who are not investing in East Jerusalem. For example, in the past the head of the Palestine Chamber of Commerce was symbolically from Jerusalem. In recent elections, Jerusalem was not represented as the head or as a board member in the Chamber of Commerce; the representative of Jerusalem is only a member, and this does not protect the importance of Jerusalem and the role of Jerusalem.

The economic aspect is an important aspect for the steadfastness of the Palestinian Jerusalemites to remain in Jerusalem, to provide work opportunities. I think that the recent incidents are partially because of that. The youth who work in Israel work at lower salaries than the Jews, though with relatively higher salaries than those from other parts of the West Bank. At the same time, they pay high taxes to the Israeli municipality, the arnona and other taxes. If the Palestinian worker gets the minimum wage in Israel, which is higher than salaries in other parts of the West Bank, the taxes that he/she pays leaves him with a wage that is lower than the wages in the West Bank. They pay lower taxes in the West Bank. The Jerusalemite youth nowadays feel that they can’t accomplish most of their ambitions. Some of this is because of the economic situation, unemployment, lack of housing and problems in finding a suitable house — which leave the youth facing the decision to leave the city center and look for houses outside of Jerusalem. This led to frustration and lack of a vision for a solution on the horizon; some of the reasons behind recent incidents in East Jerusalem come as a result of the economic situation. Palestinian Jerusalemites are unable to find housing (because of Israeli restrictions on building and high taxes), which leads to an inability to find affordable houses, or find houses at all, something that forces some of them to leave the city and live in the suburbs.

AbuZayyad: What the Palestinian Jerusalemite pays for a building license application at the Israeli municipality is higher than that of the cost of construction of a building in the West Bank. These high prices have led to housing problems. Besides that, there are no lands left for the Palestinians. If there are lands, they are very expensive; a person might spend a lifetime saving money in order to afford a piece of land.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem are neglected and “in-between.” Israel, when it annexed East Jerusalem, annexed the lands and the building but not the population; it gave them resident IDs (permits) but not citizenship.

Participant: Besides that, the resident IDs of Palestinian Jerusalemites are being revoked. If the Palestinians do not fulfill Israeli conditions, their resident IDs are withdrawn. If the person doesn’t provide documents (paying taxes/schools/house) proving that he resides in Jerusalem, their ID is withdrawn.

Participant: The Palestinian’s basic life decisions are taken in accordance with the need to maintain their resident IDs; even relationships are built in accordance with this need.

Participant: Palestinian Jerusalemites live under constant pressure of how to preserve their resident IDs, something that shapes their whole perception of how to manage their daily life. Even when it comes to marriage, decisions are built on whether the person has an ID or doesn’t have an ID, because otherwise there is a fear of losing residency in East Jerusalem.

AbuZayyad: Do you think that the construction of the wall affected the economic situation in East Jerusalem?

Participant: Before the wall, the economic situation in East Jerusalem was much better. Palestinians from the West Bank used to come to Jerusalem and do their shopping there, and East Jerusalem was always full of people. Nowadays, Jerusalem after 5 pm is like a ghost town. Nowadays, with the checkpoints, people are discouraged from coming to Jerusalem.

Participant:Participant: Before the construction of the wall, Palestinian Jerusalemites didn’t face many problems in providing proof of their place of residence, but after Israel started the policy of ID withdrawal, they began facing problems. I don’t have a Jerusalem resident ID, because when they constructed the wall, I was underage and lived two years in an area outside the municipality borders. When I applied for an ID they refused to issue an ID for me. I’m 21 years old and still don’t have an ID; they refused to issue the ID because of lack of proof of residency the two years I lived outside the wall.

Participant: Any document that a person wants to obtain from the Israeli Ministry of Interior is conditioned on providing proof of residence, payment of taxes. Palestinian Jerusalemites’ main concern is finding housing within areas that are recognized by Israel as within the borders of the Israeli Jerusalem municipality.

Participant: The resident ID that the Palestinian Jerusalemites hold comes with a high price when it comes to their living conditions and freedom, which brings us back to the economic situation, how to strengthen and support the Palestinians to remain in East Jerusalem.

AbuZayyad: I would like to go back to what one of the participants said, that the situation of the Palestinians in the West Bank is much better than the situation of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. This reminds me of the impression that the Palestinians in the West Bank have about the Palestinian Jerusalemites — that they have better lives — and they are unaware of the harsh life conditions the Palestinian Jerusalemites have and the problems they face. Basically, the only advantage that the Palestinian Jerusalemites have is that their resident ID is like a fixed permit that enables them to travel around, a sort of freedom of movement, but in exchange for that, the Palestinian Jerusalemites pay housing tax, income tax, national security tax.

Participant: If you do a survey, you will notice that the majority of Palestinian Jerusalemites don’t go to West Jerusalem; they avoid going to Israeli areas. The center of their lives is East Jerusalem. They go to their work and return to their homes; they are not spending all their time in Israeli shopping malls. The impression that the Palestinians in the West Bank have about the Palestinians in East Jerusalem is not correct.

Participant: The main problem with the wall is that it divided the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem and tore the Palestinian social fabric. From an economic perspective, each divided area developed its commercial center. East Jerusalem’s Old City and city center seem like a ghost town after 5 pm, but the surrounding neighborhoods behind the wall and checkpoints developed after the construction of the wall are full of people and busy commercial areas that are open until late at night. Many Jerusalemites opened businesses in these areas with the advantage that they don’t have to pay taxes. Palestinian East Jerusalem residents do their shopping in these areas. The economic crisis is that the city center is being emptied and marginalized. The Palestinian Jerusalemites are not allowed to enter al-Aqsa Mosque; only a certain age group can enter the mosque. The situation in East Jerusalem has changed dramatically in recent years; the landscape of East Jerusalem has changed dramatically.

AbuZayyad: Can any of the participants explain why East Jerusalem is like a ghost town after 5 pm?

Participant: The security situation is the main reason and provocations of settlers. Another reason is that there is no commercial movement, the fact that the purchasing power in East Jerusalem is very weak, and the absence of law. There is a lack of social and political security; people also fear criminals and they are not protected by the police. Unfortunately the Palestinian Jerusalemites don’t have purchasing power like that of people from other areas in the West Bank, in spite of the fact that the Palestinian Jerusalemites have higher salaries. Living expenses are higher for the Palestinian Jerusalemites and what remains from their salaries after paying their taxes.

Education in East Jerusalem

AbuZayyad: What about education in East Jerusalem? For those who finish high school, do they find it easy to continue with their higher education?

Participant: Honestly, no, it is not easy. If Palestinians finish school and choose to attend a Palestinian university, they might be able to obtain a degree but might not be able to find a job, or they might find a job but not in their field of study. The alternative is to study at an Israeli university. The problem nowadays is that there is a high level of racism, and sometimes the student hates going to the university because of that. They deal with the Arabs in a different way than the Jews. If a Jewish student were to object to something, they wouldn’t say anything, but if an Arab student wants to object to something, they won’t accept it. It is very difficult to study at an Israeli university.

AbuZayyad: Why not study at a Palestinian university?

Participant: Because there are a lack of work opportunities. I studied media at Beirzeit University; I felt that I was investing a lot of time and energy in it, but in vain. There are no work opportunities in the West Bank or in Jerusalem, and it take years in order to be able to build work experience and find a job. So I felt that I had to leave and study at an Israeli university, even while knowing that I might be disregarded but at least I might find an opportunity. If I study at a Palestinian university, after graduation the Palestinian Jerusalemite needs to take additional exams given by the Israeli authorities in order to be able to work in Israel. Sometimes these additional exams take additional years of training. For example, in engineering and law, in order to practice in Israel, exams are very difficult and students face this problem, and it becomes easier to enroll in the Israeli educational system that would prepare them to find work opportunities in Jerusalem.

AbuZayyad: I assumed that the problem with studying at Palestinian universities is that in Israel they don’t recognize the degree.

Participant: In recent years, Israeli authorities have recognized Al-Quds University degrees in disciplines such as Shari’a, and law and medicine. Most of the time, students’ main concern in choosing a major is to find a job, and sometimes students change majors in order to be able to find a job.

Participant: It doesn’t matter whether it is Birzeit, Al-Quds or Jordanian universities; after graduation a Palestinian student is obliged to spend additional years in learning Hebrew and taking Israeli exams in order to be able to find a job. And even with all of that effort, they are not sure that they will be able to find a job.

Participant: The Palestinian youth are under a lot of pressure, especially in East Jerusalem: taxes, problems in obtaining education, unemployment. The Palestinians in the West Bank have better life conditions than those in East Jerusalem. They have houses, lands, work, and their lives are somehow better. In East Jerusalem people are hardly managing: no lands, no houses, no work. Palestinians in Israel (1948) have Israeli citizenship; they have access to loans from the Israeli banks. In East Jerusalem, we don’t have citizenship and we can’t get loans from Israeli banks. If we manage to get loans, we get loans under harsh conditions.

AbuZayyad: To wrap up, we talked about education in Jerusalem and said that Palestinians attend Israeli universities for better opportunities in employment.

Participant: A Palestinian student of law who finish his/her studies at a Palestinian university after graduation needs to study Hebrew, do the training for a year, then spend two years to get the practice license; it takes about seven to eight years to be able to start working or apply for a job. When would the youth be able to work, settle down, and start a family!

Participant: In Israeli universities, they have more scholarships for the Jews than those for the Arabs. If the Palestinian does anything that is not accepted by the Israelis, he/she would not receive the scholarship. Still, there are plenty of scholarships that the Arab students can apply for.

AbuZayyad: The Palestinian Israelis (1948) have these scholarships, or the Palestinian Jerusalemites?

Participant: Palestinian Jerusalemites who study at Israeli universities can apply for scholarships, and there are plenty of scholarships available.

Participant: Some apply and fail to obtain it.

Participant: There are plenty of scholarships students can apply for. If the Arab students complain about unavailability of scholarships, they would say that the Arab students are not searching or applying. The Palestinian Jerusalemites can apply, but if they do anything that is not accepted by Israelis, the Israelis withdraw the scholarship. For example, I posted a photo of a Palestinian martyr on my Facebook page; this year they refused to give me any scholarship. The director of scholarships at the Israeli university where I study refused to sign any scholarship for me; they monitor the Palestinian students and their lives.

Participant: Do you have Israeli friends on your Facebook page who reported you?

Participant: No, I posted the photo on a public page; they monitor every person.

Participant: They monitor everything that every Palestinian posts, every conversation. Universities use a program to monitor everything that students post.

Participant: A friend of mine was arrested a couple of days ago on the university campus on the accusation of threatening the security of Israel because of a post she posted on Facebook; she’s in her first year.

Participant: Unfortunately, I see what some Israelis post on their Facebook pages, and it is worse than what the Palestinians post, but the Israeli authorities don’t question or arrest them. They accuse the Palestinians of incitement, but not the Israelis.

AbuZayyad: This double-standard approach, where the laws are applied only to Palestinians, we call this the double legal system. For example, in the West Bank, when the settlers burned alive the Dawabsheh family, the Israeli authorities said they know who did the attack, but they didn’t arrest them. When the Palestinians attacked settlers, within two days the Israeli authorities arrested the people who they claim did the attack. If within two days they were able to know who did the attack and arrest them, they can for sure know the settlers who attacked the Palestinians and arrest them.

Participant: Even if they arrest those who attack the Palestinians, they release them from prison after a short while with early release.

Participant: The Israelis claim that they do know who attacked the Dawabsheh family, but that they don’t have sufficient evidence to arrest them. But when it comes to the Palestinians, according to their law they can arrest them for 40 days on the simplest information, without any evidence or proof that they committed anything.

Culture in East Jerusalem

AbuZayyad: Can we say that there is a cultural life in Jerusalem?

Participant: There is a cultural life but it is very limited; people are hardly following up with their work and other responsibilities and can’t follow up with lectures, seminars. I can’t blame the occupation fully for this, because the priority of the people is how to feed their children than of following up with books and authors.

AbuZayyad: How many of you attend cultural events at the Yabous Cultural Center or the el-Hakawati Theater?

Participant: Yes, we attend cultural events at these centers.

Participant:Participant: Four of us sitting here today are members of a group called Ayshe ya quds, a group that was established to revive the cultural and arts sector in East Jerusalem.

AbuZayyad: From your observations, how would you describe the level of attendance at these events?

Participant: Depends on the event itself, most of the times you see the same people.

Participant: You always see the same people because of the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of its surrounding neighborhoods. Another problem is finding events that might attract people. If an author or artist is invited from abroad, it might attract people, but there are restrictions on the entrance of some authors and artists, and there is isolation, too. In addition to lack of security, to organize a huge festival, half of the energy and resources would be spent on how to protect the participants or the performers. Most of the time, the Yabous Cultural Center and el-Hakawati National Theater repeat their shows; you see the same people and the same faces because they are the people who attend in order to encourage the cultural life.

Participant: The new events take place in the West Bank, because they are able to bring performers from abroad, but it is difficult to bring them to East Jerusalem. Once at the university, they invited the singer Mays Shalash. They were unable to bring her to East Jerusalem, to obtain a permit for her to enter Jerusalem, so instead they brought Amneh Abu Salam from Israel; people have seen her performance several times and get bored.

AbuZayyad: The wall divided Jerusalem and isolated it from the rest of the Palestinian population.

Participant: The wall also removed Jerusalem from the center of the Palestinian cultural life. The center was moved to Ramallah, but if you go to an event, for example, at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, you would notice that a high percentage of the attendees are from Jerusalem. The reason for this is that you can’t bring these performers to East Jerusalem.

Participant: The Israeli policies are aimed at emptying East Jerusalem of its residents, preventing cultural events, or putting obstacles in front of them, aimed at preventing the Palestinians from being present in Jerusalem.

Participant: It is an Israeli systematic policy to prevent these events — several events were forbidden by the Israelis to take place at el-Hakawati Theater, public events, too. For example, a public Sufi performance at Damascus Gate during the holidays was prevented by the Israelis. The event was not political. The claim for preventing the event was that the Palestinian Authority supported it. Another example is Palestinian Scouts for Special needs children. The plan was to take these children from Damascus Gate to Nabi Musa. This event was also prevented. We reduced the number of participants and took them on a casual walk because we wanted to do the event without police approval. In my experience, any event that presents the Palestinian cultural identity, or the possibility that it might present the Palestinian cultural identity, is prevented by the Israelis. Another example: There was an attempt to present a Mahmoud Darwish film on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. This event was prevented, and was shown instead at Al-Quds University, although there was an attempt to do the event inside the St. George School. Nevertheless the event was prevented.

AbuZayyad: Do you think that the constant Israeli attempts to prevent events that present the Palestinian national and cultural identity in Jerusalem would strengthen or weaken this identity?

Participant: A few months ago, another festival was taking place in East Jerusalem. One of the festival activities were clown shows for children at Damascus Gate. The Israeli police attacked the event and arrested a person who was wearing a tiger costume. If they arrest a person who is throwing stones, that is something, but they have a problem with a clown who is cheering up children; they prevent these events too! The photo of the arrest was shared on social media, and their act strengthened the Palestinian cultural identity and national feelings. Their police prevent the smallest event that might cheer Palestinian children up.

AbuZayyad: It is possible to conclude that their attempts to attack the Palestinian cultural and national identity indirectly strengthen the Palestinian national identity.

Participant: Another example, the Palestinian festival on national heritage “Turath” that was held at the Hebrew University a few years ago was prevented in following years. It was a difficult procedure to obtain a permit to conduct the festival, and when the permit was given, it was with conditions on what was allowed to be performed, and people from outside the university were not allowed to attend. They also decided on the number of attendees — 400 — and who was allowed and who was not, and the security remained at the entrance to count the people who entered. Of those who attended from outside the university, they allowed only couples: either the male is a student and the female from outside the university, or the female from the university and the male from outside the university; they didn’t allow two females to attend. The year after, the festival was held in one of the theaters on campus where they hold official events, and there was huge opposition to allowing the Palestinian students to hold the event there. If the organizers violated any of these conditions, they were informed that they would be arrested; at these student festivals, the students are not allowed to raise a Palestinian flag.

Participant: The festival “Ayshe Ya Quds” had different locations for its events; they allowed it, but then they didn’t allow any of the attendees’ cars to enter the street without giving them a ticket/fine of NIS 500. The festival was crowded, but after it finished, the people left to find tickets for NIS 500 on their cars. The Palestinian Jerusalemites’ relationship with Israel is like those who are in between “not married” and “not divorced;” even they don’t know what form of relationship we have together. They build a wall in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, the following day they remove it, they put a checkpoint in the al-Issawiya neighborhood then they remove it, one day they say they want the Arabs; the next day they say they don’t want them. These things add pressure on the youth, too, in addition to the problems in education and work. The difference is that life is relatively stable in Ramallah; the people there can establish a life, build a career, things are clearer to them — in any place around the world, except in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, it is not clear for any person how to build and plan their lives: whether the Palestinians want to be integrated into the Israeli system, to attend Israeli schools, to work in Israel, to bare their racism. If they integrate into the system, it would be a burden; if they don’t, they won’t find a job. On the social level: whether to marry a person from Jerusalem, where to reside, what schools to send their children to … but they want their Palestinian identity, how to make it, and how to encourage that. People in the West Bank criticize the Palestinian Authority. In Jerusalem, we criticize the Authority, too, although we are under Israeli control, and we criticize Israel, too. If a teacher criticizes Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas), he will not be questioned, but if a teacher criticizes (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu, they will be questioned.

AbuZayyad: The solution is that Israel leaves Jerusalem, and East Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine, and the relationship between the West Bank and Jerusalem will return to normal relations; East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, this division was only created by Israel.

Participant: The Israelis recently divided Jerusalem into East and West. As long as the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are fulfilling Israeli conditions, they allow them to stay; if they violate their conditions they expel them from the city and don’t provide basic services. They say that it is a united city and that the Palestinians are under this definition, but at the same time they define the Palestinians as enemies. We have an identity and it is known. The problem is that we lack things to support this identity. I disagree with the opinion that if the economic situation is good, work opportunities are available, education is good, then we would not have had the recent escalation in the situation. The economic situation during the first intifada was very good in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, and during the second intifada the economic situation was excellent in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem want their identity as Palestinians and aspire to have a system that fulfills and its national and cultural aspirations. The situation in East Jerusalem is not new; in the past four years there were always clashes with the Israeli police in all neighborhoods, arrests.

The construction of the wall isolated East Jerusalem from the rest of its neighborhoods. Palestinian Jerusalemites moved or opened branches of their businesses in the West Bank.

Participant: A friend of mine wanted to open a coffee shop. A friend of his asked him where he wants to open the café, he said in Jerusalem. He told him, “Don’t open a café in Jerusalem, open it in Ramallah.” He calculated for him the economic feasibility and calculated for him the costs, the café revenues must be NIS 45,000 per month in order to maintain it. The advice was that it was better to be an employee at some place than to take this financial risk.

Participant: This is what the Israelis want us to reach. We want the economic situation to improve but it is not improving, the youth feel frustrated, for some they have nothing to lose. The Palestinian Authority doesn’t provide support to them while saying that the Palestinians ought to be steadfast in Jerusalem and at the al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel too doesn’t provide any support. The Palestinian Jerusalemites are being neglected by both sides.

Participant: Israel wants cheap Palestinian labor, or for the Palestinians to enroll in their system to study at their schools, learn Hebrew and possibly be able to find a job at an Israeli high-tech company and be integrated like the Palestinian Israelis. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem are still clinging to their national identity, and they have a problem with that — to impose all sorts of restrictions, whether economic or cultural, in order to weaken the people, people find themselves facing the choice to learn Hebrew and integrate into the Israeli system, or leave and live somewhere else.

Participant: Many Palestinian Jerusalemites who are educated either work or stay in Ramallah; they want cheap Palestinian labor.

I study mechanical engineering at an Israeli university, and an Arab student at the same university invented something, and it was stolen from him without any legal protection. Meanwhile, Jewish students’ inventions are encouraged and legally protected and the university registers their invention in their name and gives them financial support.

AbuZayyad: We would like to conclude this roundtable discussion with this question: Do you have any normal/friendly relations with Israelis on a personal level?

Participant: We try to avoid that; we encounter them at work and universities.

Participant: We work with Israelis, and through work relations we talk with them to maintain our work interests.

Participant: Personally, I don’t want to have any personal relations with Israelis as friends.

AbuZayyad: Even if the Israelis are left-wing and they recognize your rights as a Palestinian and are against the occupation?

Participant: My brother works in the Jewish Natori Karta neighborhood; those that have the correct Jewish religion, I can talk with them without any problem.

Participant: The problem is not with the religion; it is whether it is humane or not humane, if they violate our rights or not. If they don’t violate our rights, and recognize them, we might talk with them. We encounter Jews who shout “Death to the Arabs.”

AbuZayyad: I am not talking about Jews who shout “Death to the Arabs.” I am talking about Israelis who have a clear position about the Palestinians, who they say that they are against the occupation, and support a Palestinian state, East Jerusalem as its capital, and a just solution for the refugees, and support the evacuation of the settlements — do you have a problem talking with Israelis from this category?

Participant: No, I don’t have a problem, and we would deal with them on a human level.

AbuZayyad: If an Israeli supports Palestinian rights and is against the occupation, against settlements, and supports a Palestinian state, can we say that these people might be partners? I follow what some Israelis post on Facebook, and sometimes I share what they post if it is good.

Participant: Not all the Jews are the same; they have different opinions.

Participant: Some Jews like us Palestinians. I have a teacher like that; they don’t treat us in a racist way, and acknowledge that what is happening to us Palestinians is not humane. During the war on Gaza, some Israelis expressed sympathy and solidarity with the Palestinian students. When the Palestinian students wanted to hold a memorial event for the Palestinian martyrs in campus, they were arrested, but this teacher defended them, while other Jewish students were shouting at her and at us.

AbuZayyad: I can say that our problem is not with the Jews for being Jews; it is with the Israeli occupation and anybody that supports settlements, and we don’t have a problem with Jews who acknowledge our rights as Palestinians. For example, there are Israelis whom I follow on facebook such as Professor Amiram Goldblum from the Hebrew University, Professor Daniel Bar-Tal from Tel Aviv University and Professor Galit Hasan- Rokem from the Hebrew University. Sometimes I see that these people are better than us in expressing views that defend our Palestinian rights, or in criticizing their government. I always say that I am against racism; my problem is with the Israeli occupation. I have a problem with the Zionist movement that doesn’t recognize our rights as Palestinians, but any Israeli who acknowledges my rights, I don’t have a problem talking with them.

Participant: I would like to thank you for this roundtable discussion, and providing us with the platform to express our views as Palestinian Jerusalemites.

AbuZayyad: Thank you all and good luck for your future.








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