Dominique, an activist in Israel working for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, blogs at The Other Side of the Wall. Her latest piece, on the dispossession of Palestinians from Jerusalem, details the tragically mundane nature of ethnic cleansing:
When talking about Palestine and Palestinian’s rights it is difficult to decide where to start. So I will just tell you day about my day of today.
9:39am: I am drinking my second cup of tea, trying to do my arabic homework, (last minute as usual) when I got a text message “ DWG alert : demolition ongoing of a structure in Abu Dur in East Jerusalem. For further info call xxx”. I ring the number, try to get info about this address and figure out if it is still time to get there or if everything is already over.
I jump into a taxi, and start grumbling against Jerusalem’s traffic. When we reach Abu Dur, a truck blocks the street. I get out the taxi, decided to find the place walking. But I realize I am in a very Jewish and “bourgeois” neighbourhood. Obviously nobody is going to demolish anything here. Did I misunderstood the indication? Did the taxi driver make a bad joke? I get down the hill looking for buldozers. Finally the neighbourhood’s look changes. Smaller houses, pourer, narrow streets. Much more arabic looking. And suddenly 4 soldiers heavily equipped. They stare at me. I don’t look very local. “Where are you going?” “I’m visiting” “Visiting whom? “nobody, just looking for a nice place to take photos” “Passport?”
10:25am: After checking my passport they let me go through. I hate them but at least I know I am on the right way now. And a few hundreds meters further I reach the crime scene. The house, I mean the rubble.
A woman crying, another shouting her anger. Buldozers and police left a few minutes ago. Men from the family and neighbours are already active trying to clean the place. They received an order from the municipal representative to clear out all the rubble that used to be their home within a week, otherwise they would receive a fine.
The few belongings the family managed to save are piled on the street. A children bike, books, a cupboard, toys, kitchen items. That’s it. 2 houses, 16 persons just lost their all house, home, history, dignity, hope.
The father of the family fainted twice during the demolition, and was hospitalized.
Atmosphere is oppressive. A few people taking pictures, a few journalists. I meet people from Icahd, the ngo I volunteer with. Closed faces. What can we do or say? I don’t know and feel ashamed and sad.