14-07-2010

Wednesday 14th July 2010 - day 6 of youth trip to Palestine and Israel

A whole day in Jerusalem.  The students are staying for two nights at young Jerusalemites' homes in the area around Yaffo Street (Jaffa Street) in West Jerusalem.  We spent this day in the old city, first with a series of interviews given to the national television crew (VRT, Koppen) which has been following us for the last 4 days.  Then we visited some of the holy places, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque, an Islamic holy place.  The Jewish call the site the Temple Mount.  Also for them this area is sacred.  We also visited the Western Wall, which is lying right underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  

After walking around the old city a big part of the day, we were invited for a drink at the residence of the Consul-General of Belgium, Mr Geert Cockx, and Karel Van Hecke, giving us a quiet moment of evalution of our trip until then.

In the evening we were invited by the activists of Just Jerusalem to meet with Palestinians in the neighbourhood of Sheich Jarach in East Jerusalem, who are being expelled from their houses and systematically replaced by Jewish settlers, who are very agressive towards them.  We ourselves unfortunately also experienced some of this, as we were shouted ugly things at by a group of orthodox Jews, while visiting the neighbourhood in the compagny of 2 ousted Palestinians, Nasser and Itamar, and of some of the activists of Just Jerusalem, such as Sharon.  We have heard about these problems in East-Jerusalem, but seeing the houses and hearing the ousted Palestinians telling their private miseries, as well as the Jews wanting to help, is nothing like reading about it.  Seeing it, is believing it.  Fortunately, also this experience was one of dialogue.  Each Friday, since last October, demonstrations are organised in this neighbourhood, in support for the Palestinians.  90% of the demonstrators are Jewish Israelis, some of whom are celebrities such as writer David Grossmann.

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