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The Afro-Palestinian Quarter in Jerusalem & the Massacre at Deir Yassin

Day 12 of the Delegation: the Afro-Palestinian Quarter in Jerusalem & the Massacre at Deir Yassin

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Our second day in Jerusalem, and 12th day of the delegation, was filled with deep emotions, hope, and the spirit of resistance.

We explored the Old City, walking through the small shops to Bab Al-’Amoud, also known as Damascus Gate. This historic main entrance for Palestinians into the Old City is also the central hub for the Palestinian economy, from the local shop owners to the mostly women peasants from the West Bank, who risk arrest to sneak into Jerusalem to sell their produce. It has also become a symbol of resistance since what is called the Third Intifada (the Al-Aqsa 2015 uprising), and the more recent uprising last year when the occupation attempted and failed to install metal detectors to restrict the Palestinians’ entrance into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The Israelis clearly recognize the importance of this part of the Old City to the Palestinian struggle. In fact, they have announced intentions to completely seal the Damascus Gate, to prohibit Palestinian entry into the area. This plan will devastate Palestinian business in the area, rerouting visitors and consumers to the Yaffa Gate (Bab Al-Khalil), which is a more Israeli Jewish (zionized) section of the city. This is a clear attempt by the brutal, racist occupation to direct all tourism and economic development to Israeli-owned shops, and further oppress and silence the true narrative and struggle of the Palestinian people.

From Bab Al-’Amoud, we walked through the Muslim Quarter packed with Palestinian shops and consumers, only to be stunned by the disgusting visual of Ariel Sharon’s apartment decorated with an occupation flag. (Sharon is the dead former Defense Minister and Prime Minister, respectively, of Israel, who was directly responsible for massacres of Palestinians at Qibya, Sabra, and Shatilla; the latter two are refugee camps in Lebanon that were invaded by Lebanese Phalangist [Fascist] forces under the cover of Sharon’s military during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Beirut.)

This apartment was stolen by Sharon, but never used until he transferred it to another settler family. Within this Quarter, there are multiple symbols of colonization, as illegal settlers have raised the occupation’s flag above many a stolen apartment. A number of these extreme right-wing settlers are from Brooklyn, New York, and they oppress indigenous Palestinians living in Jerusalem with complete impunity, and even with the backing of Israel’s military and law enforcement.

From there, we walked to another historic area, the Afro-Palestinian Quarter (as named by the residents themselves), where over 50 families reside, some whose ancestors landed here as religious pilgrims, and others who migrated to the Old City to fight alongside the Arabs and Palestinians against the zionist, colonizing gangs in 1948. This Afro-Palestinian community—rich with struggle history and considered an indivisible part of the Jerusalem Palestinian community—confront the daily brutality of the occupation not only as Palestinians, but also as Black people attacked with vicious racism by Israeli soldiers and police.

Next, we traveled to the western suburbs of Jerusalem, visiting Qalunya, Lifta, and Deir Yassin. The rich history of Qalunya was all destroyed and replaced with settlements, but there are still signs of the village’s original inhabitants. In 2016, descendants of Qalunya successfully fought a legal battle to save a small cemetery, where their family members are buried, from demolition by the Israelis.

Not far from the cemetery (image of part of it at left), the Israelis recently initiated an archeological dig, unsuccessfully attempting to locate artifacts to claim historical Jewish ownership of the land. Only Roman and Canaanite ruins have been found.

The land belonging to Deir Yassin, where 107 of its 600 residents were massacred in 1948 by Irgun (Menachem Begin, the leader of Irgun, and the most infamous perpetrator of the massacre, later became an Israeli Prime Minister) and Stern Gang zionist terrorists, was off-limits to us due to high security in the area. But we managed to view the uninhabited homes of Lifta, still standing despite the forced exile of its residents during the Nakba of 1948. Lifta is the hometown of our dear friend and co-founder of USPCN, Rasmea Odeh.

The Israelis are trying to enforce their power and manufacture their presence in Jerusalem, but our tour of the Old City was a reminder of our people’s resilience and spirit of life.


Until Liberation & Return,


June 13, 2018