To so many Palestinians, Jerusalem is a memory. A bittersweet reminiscence that begins with a vibrant “Remember when we could enter Jerusalem…” and ends with glum, sullen looks and hefty sighs.
“Remember when we could enter Jerusalem and there was always that mountain of za’tar in the souk?”
What I remember about Jerusalem is that when we could go, we would always go pretty early so as to catch Duhr prayer in Qubbat Asakhra (the Dome of the Rock). The change of timing is what kept my most prized memory such a vivid one. One Ramadan a few years back (when we could enter Jerusalem, of course), my father hoisted us in the car and off we were to catch Maghreb prayer and to break our fast, right next to Qubbat Asakhra, right in the heart of Palestine, in Jerusalem! Dusk was to fall around me in Jerusalem, for the first time in my life. I like to think that it won’t be the last time in my life.
In a the-sun’s-about-to-set-hurry-get-food frenzy, Baba grabs yogurt, delicious Jerusalem falafel and ka’ik, apples and BOOM-the cannon blast calling for Maghreb prayers in Ramadan is sounded.
The cannon blast cues for the sun to set in Jerusalem.
The sun sets, and Jerusalem’s beauty becomes mutated in the darkness of gluttony, larceny, wickedness. In the darkness of Judaization.
* * * * * * *
“Remember when we could enter Jerusalem and there were always these colored chicks for sale! Colored chicks! And then they would usually be dead by the time we got back home.”
So many years ago. The extended family, aunts and cousins, with our ridiculous 90’s outfits, out for a day in Jerusalem. Prayer in Qubbat Asakhra, as well as in AlAqsa. The souk. Jerusalem ka’ik.
|"Remember that guy who always took pictures of people on the stairs leading to Qubbat AlSakhra?"|
The sanctuary sight of Qubbat Asakhra, with its dim lights and beautiful Quranic calligraphy encircling the dome greets you as soon as you step foot inside (literally, as shoes are not allowed in mosques).
A personal haven for Muslims all around the world, reduced to a memory. A basic, personal right for Palestinians all around Jerusalem, a mere few kilometers away from their capital city, reduced to a bittersweet recollection complete with fighting back tears and a glimmer of hope.
* * * * * * *
Walking through the souk with the uncle and cousins and all around is the breathtaking kaleidoscope of delicious treats, souvenirs, spices, accessories and toys, clothes…the list goes on. Look up, however, and an Israeli flag is hanging from a window, disrupting the beauty of Jerusalem with the looming factor of Zionism, mocking your Palestinian presence as if to say, “Soon, you invented creature, whatever race you claim you belong to with be ethnically cleansed from this land…you just wait.”
* * * * * * *
This memoir does not include the concept of having to pass through checkpoints or having to deal with armed Israeli soldiers commanding “khaweeya” on buses, for that would stain the magnificence Jerusalem holds.
Yes, inevitably, the memories of Jerusalem I have contain aspects of Judaization and Zionism, because that is the reality Jerusalem and Palestine are temporarily locked under, but the Jerusalem running in my blood contains no such filth.
The Jerusalem running in my blood is the Jerusalem that no occupation can thieve, the Jerusalem for all human beings regardless of race or religion, under a mighty sun, the sun of justice.
One day, that Israeli flag hanging from that window and the rest of the Zionist factors looming in every nook and cranny of Jerusalem will be nothing but an unpleasant memory.
Jerusalem is physically out of my reach, but when I look inside my heart, I see Jerusalem and I thank my enemy for keeping it alive in all of us.