Monday, October 19, 2009

Shehada Street

Beautiful buildings, suffering a slow death.

A young settler thug throws wine over a Palestinian woman.

Shehada Street, Hebron, once a thriving shopping destination, is now a place of fear. Because of its proximity to the ultra-orthodox Jewish settler colonies in Tel Rumeida it is a place to be avoided by the indigenous population, especially women and children. Physical violence and intimidation by Zionist thugs, with the passive encouragement of Israeli soldiers and police, is an everyday occurrence, part of a strategy to force Palestinians to abandon their homes. The Jewish holy day, Shabat, is especially feared as this is the day when young, frequently drunk, settlers go on the rampage.

Despite the presence of Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program, the UN Temporary International Presence in Hebron, the International Solidarity Movement and other human rights groups - all attempting to offer some degree of protection to the Palestinian residents - the attacks go on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Architecture 2

The Flatiron Building (detail), New York.

Unidentified building, Hebron (Al Khalil), occupied West Bank.

A beautiful old building in Hebron (in the south of the occupied West Bank), unfortunately displaying years of impoverishment and neglect. Sandwiched between two converging streets, it is reminiscent - on a smaller scale - of New York's landmark Flatiron Building. Its graceful proportions, arched windows, supportive columns and loving attention to decorative details, place it within a tradition of fine Islamic architecture.

At street level almost all of the commercial spaces remain closed and shuttered. Beginning in 1979 eighty six Jewish families seized properties in this part of the city, establishing settler colonies under the protection of a heavy Israel "Defence" Force presence. Nearby shops have been forced to close by the Israeli authorities or have been abandoned in the face of settler attacks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Ad in Haaretz
The online version of the English-language newspaper Haaretz provides a good insight into Israeli mindsets, with viewpoints ranging from those of left-wing/humanists to Zionist megalomaniacs. The pop-up advertisements also tell a story - of Israel as a European enclave, culturally isolated from its Arab neighbours. The Ashkenazi may have appropriated Palestinian foods (hommos, flat bread, etc) as well as Palestinian land and properties, but their cultural mores are still those of Eastern Europe and the United States.

This advertisement features a building, obviously of some age, built of the beautiful, cream Jerusalem stone in a style which was common throughout Palestine but which has, sadly, been eclipsed by less attractive concrete structures. One can see equally attractive examples of this architectural style in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron, though many of them suffer from the neglect imposed by Israel's 40 year economic strangulation of the West Bank.

One wonders who were the original owners of the "Little House Hotel"? Under what circumstances did it pass from their hands, and when? Where does the family live now? As has been said of Jerusalem, "every stone can tell a story".