Jerusalem… Al Quds… Zion… Dar us-Salam…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities

Jerusalem… Al Quds… Zion… Dar us-Salam…

Whatever name you use for defining this city, probably it would be incomplete explanation of whole certain portrait. This city has bilateral maybe or definitely multilateral soul like as in Dickens’ story but of course on different perspective. Jerusalem is most important issue for me in Hebrew University Israel Studies Program not because of grade but also trying to understand what really happing in beyond the green line. I mean both sides because I have to be at “no man land” with my logic as an academic and must stretch my parts of body like arms, ears and eyes trough the specific areas. So it will help me to create a conscience mind-set.

This Friday field trip covered three unique places of Jerusalem. They are both so closed the entrance of city and also both far away. Two of them from that places are important I will write about third place later because most delicious piece of my field trip was it. Geographically, Lifta village and Motza are near the main western entrance of Jerusalem –road on Yafo-. And both are established on fertilised lands. Both places have fame from ancient scripts. Lifta’s name has been mentioned in Pharaoh scripts from ancient Egypt and Motza is a Biblical village. Despite the Lifta’s continuously history Motza was established almost 150 years ago. Lifta has a Muslim majority but in some parts of villages Jews can lives without any hesitations. Motza, also, was a neighbour village with Arab village of Colonia. Community of Lifta were well organised. Mutza system is a example kind of organised solidarity among the people. Village council of elders had been getting together once a year and had planned next year agrarian activities. Despite the fact that we passed from dirt tiny roads to reach the village almost sixty years terraces, wine yards, olive trees were surrounded that idiosyncratic place. In comparison with Palestinian village Motza is still on her foots. Nevertheless we cannot say Motza had experienced suffer less then Lifta. Two different village but same tragedy…

Firstly, Lifta’s people pushed to move another place as refugee. They had to left their home desperately in December 1947 according to UN participation plan. 1948 war, also, made the situation more terrible. “Irgun” paramilitary organisation took an action against civilian villagers at coffee house of the village. That’s was the breakpoint of Lifta. Today village is full of ruins and they still give us precious hints about history. Mosque, community oven, olive oil press system and so fort are symbols of identity, land (Watan) and belonging. Even if nature makes an impression of a deserted place about Lifta, after the some observation I realised that the ruins are still attractive. Today, some people are coming there for a kind of treasure hunting but it is not real of course. They look like looking for common destiny inside the history. The Iraq origin Jews who live upper side of Lifta with 13 other families said important word today. “I am living there and I am also want to protect and re-building of Lifta. Please do not forget the pain has two side.”

Secondly, Motza had same kind of pain.  In 1929 Arab revolts during the British mandate, Maklef family was murdered violently with their guest by rebels. Only three children could escape from the house. One of these children is Mordachai Maklef became a Chef of Staff of Israeli Army Forces. One more important point is Motza is a nearest last station for resting before the Jerusalem. Despite the dummy point for Orthodox Jews and belonging the Orthodox Synagogue the people who are living in Motza more tolerant in terms of attitudes of foreigners. Maybe it is a special metaphor of Motza lands. They were a strangers before 150 years ago and they have quite good relations with Arabs so still some of them can speak Arabic. Today, as a Rothberg International School graduate student I am alien in that place and they offered me if you do not want to wear a kippah around the Synagogue, you can free. That is a kind of tolerance like Mizrahi Jew in upper-Lifta who imagined renovating and reconstructing the village again.

Finally, far away from the historical conflicts I remembered one film which name is “Make Humus Not War”. Our last destination is Abu Gosh. Some people can know this place as spot of food tourism and some of them know that town from new established 10 millions dollars mega-mosque. Simply, Abu Gosh residents have fully Arab identity but they are well connected with Israeli citizenship nowadays. Almost all signboards of restaurants are Hebrew. In comparison with the some parts of East Jerusalem for instance Isawiyah, municipality services much more qualified as we seen clearly. I also had an experience to hear Salah from minaret of old mosque of Abu Gosh. It is definitely read by higher voice than East Jerusalem. Maybe level of mosque is higher than Abu Gosh’s apartments that located mainly in valley dominated by tones of green.

After the two weeks later when I first read Jerusalem Majolica syllabus, I have started to understand exact purpose of why Chen Bram selected the “majolica” as a name of course. Not just city facilities or city centre also people of suburbs and their ancestors and also grandchildren are ‘baked’ together like every different little parts of majolica. Upper parts of blog belong two-village one tragedy but when we came to Abu Gosh that town is enjoyable location both Israelis especially from Tel Aviv and Arabs together. So that first experience that touches the nerve cells of the outskirts of Jerusalem was inspiriting. I do not want to end that blog with certain conclusion and final decision about community relations because of it was just preference for me.

Selim Han YENİACUN