In East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah we see the essence of the Palestinian struggle
The planned evictions of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah have sparked a global outcry after residents of the neighbourhood, along with Palestinian activists, mobilised a social media campaign (#SaveSheikhJarrah) to raise awareness of the recent alarming developments there.
For a few, like myself, the unfolding events are deeply personal – my family is one of those facing expulsion.
I am the daughter and granddaughter of proud Jerusalemites. Their story is the story of millions of Palestinians – the story of a struggle to exist.
In the 1948 al-Nakba (what Palestinians call the “catastrophe”), my grandparents became refugees, forced to leave their beautiful home in the Baqa neighbourhood in what came to be known as West Jerusalem.
My grandparents found refuge in Sheikh Jarrah, an area just outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
They built a loving home, planted trees to nurture their rootedness in the land, and were part of a strong-knit community. As children, we felt safe there. We grew up as proud Jerusalemites living in the heart of the city. But we knew also that the threat of expulsion loomed.
For Palestinians, then, al-Nakba was not just an event; it is an ongoing condition of our existence. We face it every time the Israeli policies expel us from our homes, attack us in our places of worship, and restrict our access to cultural and political spaces in our city.
Al-Nakba is both collective and personal, a condition of existing despite the continuous uprooting we face every day. This is the sentiment and experience of hundreds of thousands of Jerusalemites, intimidated and coerced into living under a system that aims to erase them from their city.
This is not a new struggle – we have been battling with the settler organisation in Israeli courts for decades. We have no faith in these courts; after all, they are ultimately enforcing discriminatory legislation. They are not on our side; they don’t see us as equal human beings who just want to stay in our homes, who want justice and the right to live in our city.