I wrote yesterday about my visit last week to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
When I was there I had dinner in an East Jerusalem restaurant with four young Palestinian Christian professional people who had agreed to tell me what life is like for them under occupation.
East Jerusalem is formerly part of Jordan, now subsumed within the Jerusalem municipal boundary. Palestinian residents have separate ID status there from the West Bank. They can travel in Israel, and in the West Bank, however they have only a resident’s ID and travel document, and are made to feel like illegal immigrants in their own country.
While Christians around the world romanticise about celebrating Easter in Jerusalem, these locals no longer go.
The prospect of having to negotiate four checkpoints manned by armed soldiers to get into the Old City is more than enough disincentive.
“This life is killing the Spirit”, says one.
“It is already dead”, says another.
These are people with Masters Degrees from Universities including Glasgow.
The question “Do I stay or do I leave?” is a daily reality – many of their friends have already gone.
They are aware that this is a privileged position, and that most young Palestinians don’t have a choice.
The first question a young man and woman ask one another is not very romantic: What is your ID status? Why fall in love with someone who is destined to be separated from you by a twenty foot concrete wall?
For information on conditions on the West Bank and East Jerusalem area go to the website of UN OCHA (the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs).