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For the People of Jerusalem: Houses Die When Their Inhabitants Depart

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By Eng. Saleem Al Batayneh

“Why did you leave the horse alone?” This is the title of a poetry collection by the poet Mahmoud Darwish, from which I borrowed a poetic verse for this article (“Houses die when their inhabitants depart”).

“Why did you leave the horse alone?” A question Mahmoud Darwish did not wish to hear the answer to from anyone! Nevertheless, it is a cry within our spaces to awaken us from the nightmares of our dreams.

What struck me about the aforementioned poetic verse and what distinguishes it from others is its capacity for interpretation and application to various scenes and events. These scenes depict much of what we encounter, often neglecting them despite their significance and impact. The situation in East Jerusalem can be condensed into limited yet weighty words. However, its essence lies in a spectacle infatuated with grand slogans while the devil hides in the details. There are those who deliberately mix the cards and blur the colors, so we struggle to distinguish between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, conspiracy and good intentions.

This reminds me of what American actor Morgan Freeman said about cunning people, “The hunter is the most cautious not to startle the birds.”

Each of us may admire many things despite their deception and falsity, but upon discovering the truth, even if belatedly, we are compelled to ask ourselves: How were we deceived? It appears that we have been deceived, and we are unable to take a single step back to acknowledge it without pride.

It is a new phase and a conspiracy even more sinister than anything before, posing an existential threat to the people of Jerusalem. The land is disappearing, and Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are being Judaized. Let us beware of the mirage of illusions, the falsifiers of consciousness, and the forgers of history.

A painful feeling and an indescribable ordeal, as if it were the nightmare of the brilliance of place and the curse of time! Between the love of a place in its details and particles and the fear of an unknown lurking, lies the difficult equation. The Palestinian people, who once reveled in their land, were unaware of what fate concealed! They found themselves cornered in the ring, with opponents and judges united against them. Blows, plots, and conspiracies relentlessly fell upon them, as if they were destined to suffer from all sides.

Jerusalem is a knot in history and the host of armies, for over five thousand years, the city’s name has not been absent from the events of the East’s history. The successive developments in the Palestinian scene resemble a dramatic series with more than one director. What is happening these days is nothing but a conspiracy or the outcome of a conspiracy (planning and arrangement)!! Congratulations to those who planned, plotted, and developed, and no condolences to the foolish.

So, there is no need for frankness with the text! It is a text that is not translatable. What is required is the displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem from their homes at any cost!

Thus, Israel seeks to change the situation in East Jerusalem by adopting policies and measures that prevent any Palestinian from exercising their right to reside or live within the city of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is to be separated from its northern extension through a settlement belt extending from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, passing through Karm al-Mufti, the Shepherd Hotel, and reaching the Hebrew University, which will be linked to West Jerusalem at the expense of the homes of Jerusalem’s Arab residents.

After 1967, Israel organized a registry for the residents of East Jerusalem and included them in the category of permanent residents in Israel, provided they could prove that they were residing in the city and present during the registration process. Those residing abroad, even within the West Bank cities, were exempted! Since then, every Jerusalemite leaving the city to reside elsewhere (outside its borders, in Gaza, or any Arab country) faces the loss of their right to permanent residence in the city of Jerusalem, according to the law issued for this purpose in 1974. According to Article (11A) of this law, the Minister of the Interior has the authority to revoke their residency and withdraw their identity if they obtain citizenship in any other country.

Here, I once again recall this poetic verse by Mahmoud Darwish, serving as the title of my article (“Houses die when their inhabitants depart”) and reflect on the lives of people who abandoned their belongings and left the horse alone to keep it company, only to witness its demise, just like houses abandoned by their residents, leaving them to the loneliness of absence, emptiness, and nostalgia for their place.

Believe me, this is the time of Arab extermination! It is best for all Arabs to rise in defence of Jerusalem, for it is what unites them.

Al Batayneh is a former member of the Jordanian Parliament