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In the morning in Jerusalem I ask, “until when?”

Acting in Faith  |  By Mati Gomis-Perez, Oct 30, 2015
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Photo: AFSC / Lucy Duncan

The escalation of violence and tension in Jerusalem and the long term inequities, oppression and dispossession of Palestinians under occupation inspires Mati Gomis-Perez, AFSC's Israel-Palestine Director, to ask, "Until when?" - Lucy

As we start the morning in Jerusalem these days, one can only think, “let us see how many today."  How many arrested, how many prevented from leaving their towns, how many clashes, how many protests, how many houses demolished, how many shot at, how many murdered, how many lynched, how many stabbings, how many and how many...

As we start the morning in Jerusalem these days, one can only follow the daily routine of reading the different media outlets and read the op-eds, articles, opinions, and editorials that explain whether there is an intifada in the making, whether the Palestinian youth are being abducted by Facebook as if they don’t have brains of their own anymore, whether the Palestinian Authority will not survive the current wave of violence, whether the Israeli society is being hijacked by fanatic settlers (as if these have come from out of space and not from the very same Israeli society), whether Netanyahu has lost control, whether Israel will not tolerate a divided Jerusalem (as if Jerusalem has not been divided for at least 10 years already), whether, whether...

As we start the morning in Jerusalem these days, one can only explain to the expat newcomers that what we are seeing in the city has no precedence, that we are in un-charted territory, that even at the height of the Second Intifada, with buses blown up in the middle of Jerusalem, you did not feel so much hate all around, that the difference with the First intifada is that there is a Palestinian Authority now and the difference with the Second Intifada is that there is no leadership now, that those cement blocks we see in main arteries of East Jerusalem and next to fancy hotels look exactly the same as the original Qalandya, Huwara checkpoints, that rather than focusing on the symptoms we have to look at the root causes, at 1948 and not only 1967, that, that…

East Jerusalem, photo by Lucy Duncan

As we start the morning in Jerusalem these days, one can only hear the troubling silence of an international community which has contributed directly and consciously to the current situation by: giving a total blank check to the Israeli policies of oppression, dispossession, and occupation of the Palestinian people, encouraging openly and in private the political divide between Fatah and Hamas and by paying their guilty conscience (if they have any) through millions of dollars in development and humanitarian aid.

Many among them in the international community argue that if Palestinians were “united”, if they had a common strategy, if they had a solid proposal, then things would be easier.  After all, they argue, it is up to the Palestinians to decide what they want: one state, two states, all historical Palestine, the occupied territory only, the right of return... they cannot have it all so, the argument continues, Palestinians have to make hard choices.  In the meantime, that international community will be sympathetic to their cause but could not do much about the rights of the Palestinian people other than show support to the raising of their flag in the UN.

Jerusalem, by Lucy Duncan

But I wonder, do you need Palestinian unity to know that what happens in the Old City of Hebron is morally and ethically wrong and that it constitutes blatant racism? Do you really need the Palestinians to get their act together in order to understand that what is happening in Gaza is plain and simply collective punishment? Do we need Hamas to renounce armed struggle to stop the construction of settlements in the West Bank which are taking land, water, and resources from the Palestinians illegally? We are waiting for Palestinians to come up with a solution to the conflict (a solution that fits Israel’s needs, not theirs) while the youth in Jerusalem are being imprisoned for 20 years or directly shot at for throwing stones or participating in demonstrations.

As we start the morning in Jerusalem these days, we wait for the advent of the Palestinian Mandela or Gandhi while groups of Israelis call for death to the Arabs in the streets of Jerusalem.  We are waiting and watching how Palestinians are imprisoned and murdered in the hope that soon, a new Palestinian leader will tell us, what to do, what to advocate for, what to denounce, what to, what to...

As we start the morning in Jerusalem these days, I can only take a deep breath, close my eyes and mutter: until when? 

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About the Author

Mati Gomis-Perez is AFSC Country Representative for Israel and Palestine based in East Jerusalem.  Before she joined the AFSC in November 2013, she worked for a number of non-governmental organizations in Spain and the occupied Palestinian territory, for UN Women in New York and Jordan, and the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada.  She has done consultancies in Cambodia, Sahrawi Refugee Camps in Algeria, and Colombia evaluating humanitarian and development projects.  

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About Friends Relations

Lucy Duncan works with other AFSC staff to foster strong relationships between AFSC and Quakers.

Lucy is AFSC’s Director of Friends Relations. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience. She attends Green Street Friends Meeting (PhYM) and lives with her son and partner in a Quaker cemetery.

Sophia is the Friends Relations Fellow this year who works closely with Lucy. She is a recent graduate of Guilford College where she majored in Sustainable Food Systems and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies.