The Neighbour Before the House: Views from the Valley of Silwan
Duration: 02:43:13; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 31.453; Saturation: 0.020; Lightness: 0.608; Volume: 0.137; Cuts per Minute: 4.344; Words per Minute: 28.262
Summary: “The Neighbour Before the House” is a series of video probes into the landscape of East Jerusalem. This footage, shot with a security camera, is an experiment that exceeds the instrumental aspects of surveillance imaging, and uses the technology of power as a device with which to narrate, quite intimately, over the architecture of a deliberate and accelerated occupation of a city. Instances of inquisitiveness, gestures of jest, memory, fear, desire and doubt, pervade the project of watching. Stories float up, as Palestinians from different neighbourhoods evaluate what can be seen—messianic archeological digs; Israeli settlement activities; takeovers of Palestinian properties; the Old City, the Wall and the West Bank. Pans-tilts-zooms become ways in which to frame the view, as these residents speak about the nature of their distance from others.
Nael how far are we now from, the old city ,
...30 m max..here it is right?
Then there are some settlements here no?
-Yes a bit to the front...
What year have they taken that?
-In the last year they took these lands...
And they live with their families or...?
-No they do not live with their families, they bought from 100 years according to what they are saying and of course it is also known that these Palestinian families have also been here since hundreds of years you cannot deny that.
And the plan is to control completely the region of Silwan which are Wadi il Hilweh, and of course, the Bustan neighborhood in the lower end of Wadi il Hilweh where Wadi il Hilwaeh ends, the Bustan starts and they are interested in Silwan which is go to the right and left as you can see and they have been implementing this plan for the last ten years and even if it takes them another 20 years they have no problem with that they will go on with it.
The story of this cousin...zoom out
...it used to be very close to the old city walls OK we will not see it from here...
(We can see the Aqsa from here now telling the story of his cousin.)
They are using all the means to scare the families in Silwan all the settlers and Jewish groups are armed and so every body has a weapon in Israel and they all have the permit to use it. Even he was only afraid of somebody.... He has the right to shoot, to use the gun, legally he has no legal obligation for that.
Actually the guy who shot and the guy who shot was imprisoned for only 9 days and it was home imprisonment and after the 9 days he left with no problems and as well any court case you file against him they will say that he is a soldier and he has all the right to shoot at the other side if he feels threatened. and it is no problem , the lives of people and even their image international they have no problem to kill for realizing their temple under the Aqsa and Silwan, which is the closest to the Aqsa.
OK now when the settlers come they are usually armed and do they have protection as well?
-Yes of course! They usually have special trained troops from the Israeli security forces to guard them. That is apart from the fact they are also armed
and they act carelessly towards people's lives the Arabs because the Israeli country they have this that whoever kills an Arab gets a certain honorable rank in the Zionist groups it is like an honor that he has achieved the goal in his life of and this is the most important goal in life for them.
Mahasen is translating, OK it will not be more or less a conversation
The only question is 50, 60, 70 year history of Silwan...
(Shaina is asking Nael)
-30 years till the 19th no single Jew or Israeli was in this area all the Palestinians were living here they had a good and calm life they had no problems with each other, the Muslims had the Aqsa, the christians had the sepulcre and mariam church, and the Jews had the cotem? and everybody was sharing the life and sharing the earth....Ashok also asking more about farming and agriculture..
(still discussing in english , now he is talking about the the small river, in Silwan how the Jews are controlling it now and no single Arab can go inside or visit it, Shaina is telling him what we heard about the benefits of this water, etc. )
(Shaina is asking.. )
(Nael is talking about the whole strategy of continuing their confiscations even if takes a long time they will be after it)
-The Jews are making it harder and harder every year by taking houses and killing people without any commitment of that nobody is talking about it or taking action and in these days I think somebody must take action regarding what is happening in jerusalem ad the holy land.
When have the settlers become violent is it 20 or 30 years ago?
-In the last 5 days and not before that
...and now it comes to the end they are...
Where do they come from the settlers?
-These I think come from France and United States, and they have an association of Al Aad which is giving money for Jewish people to buy houses or whatever they want especially the holy land and Silwan.
(Ashok is asking)
The city of David from here we start....
You can see the signs everywhere.
(Mahasen asking: incident with your brother when he was shot at by the settlers)
(and then later we can see the archaeological site)
All that the Jews have the main idea is they put the signs from here we stated it is for giving the Arab people the feeling that life is ended in the small future here in this area the people want to go out can go out now without any problems who will not go out there are so many ways to get you out from here and they will not wait from any body to keep the and I think the people here cannot do it because as we talked before my ...my cousin had an accident before 2 weeks his boy was in the way home from the shocol and a Jewish settler was passing by the road and he hit him on his face the child he is almost 4 years old his father saw him so he went to talk to them and say why you did that
so before he started to talk to him he got his gun and gave him two shots on his foot on both legs before he started to talk to him and nobody took any action
You know this is not a kind of war in the road we are in a war in general but we are sharing a life here every body in the holy land this is not aland for christian alone or Jewish alone, it is the holy land, thats how we think and thats how we will keep thinking in the future and we will not go back to the Jewish mind as the Jewish think.
Shaina: Settlers can be armed?
-Every single Jewish people has his gun on his back.
Did your cousin...(?)
-Yes its legal all the Jewish people have that.
Shaina: Your cousin would feel unsafe, can he get a license to have weapons?
your cousin , ...
-No no way , could he do anything after this incident?!
also no as I told you before every Jewish has the right to shoot anybody who is making him feel he is willing to do anything to him to hit him to shoot him
by the willing you know, the willing inside the person they take it as an action.
Shaina: Palestinian Christian
(now Nael is answering about the christian)
It is in the middle of Silwan, the church, and residents also , etc.
Ashok: How is it possible that half the people are armed and it is not possible in the way to continue in this relationship right?
How do you live on a daily basis?
-You can walk, and go and come back. And the problem is, going or coming is going scared and coming scared. You are walking scared, afraid that any Jew will shoot you with his gun and nobody can take action for this.
Shaina: Two kinds of settlements, more and more agricultural lands and colonies, etc.
Nael: 26 years he has been living here and he knows it very well.
(Mahasen is talking about the documents and the tabo from the Ottoman time)
Land record system (Ashok asks)
(Mahasen answers this)
(registration in the old courts)
(somebody comes inside)
(Mahasen: talks about the tabo papers and how they are not recognized by Israel and they.... )
Shaina : Ottoman records,
Ashok: How it happened in other places how a certain kind of paper gets recognized somewhere, ..
Mahasen: the Israelis very systematic, the courts in Israel are politicized even the high supreme court, in the case of Sheikh Jarrah: Shaina, that a lot of these records are in Turkey, and Ankara has not been very kind to Palestine.
Shaina: after Gaza they showed some support to Palestine.....its too late now for the records, etc.
Mahasen: people by experience are learning how to defend their rights .....
(spotting Palestinian homes)
( I think this part here is interesting)
(Shereen says there is a tendency for people to sell their lands in Silwan)
(so Nael answers that)
(changing camera angles)
(Nael talking about this house... how nobody has the permission to build, etc.)
Shaina: how are they doing this here? this cluster of al Bedoon houses,
-they control the walking paths....
(gate of Moroccan gate, the cameras)
Shaina: Surveillance almost seems the least offensive form of control that is there.
(permission for building .....
more about this: Shaina )
(they make it)
(Shaina checking sound)
(Shaina and Mahasen are discussing something)
Ashok (Nida telling him to make the camera higher
(still discussing camera position)
(They want to bring some coffee.)
(Mahasen goes to help)
(still have not started)
(overviewing the landscape)
This is Azmi's house.
-How long have you been living here?
A long time ago, around 50 years? ...We used to live in the other house over there, then it turned to be my brother-in-law's and we built this one.
-But in Silwan, how long have you been?
-A long time ago, all our life we are in Silwan.
Were you born in Silwan?
You were born here. yes.
I am 88 years old. May God bless, you are full of grace.
One of our relatives is 106 years old!
106 years old
-She stays in bed?
Yes. It is better for one to die, it is not nice to be tortured from old age. But she is fine, her children take care of her. A woman comes to clean her house. She eats slowly.
All my life I am in Silwan.
Shaina telling something to Mahasen Ashok as well
(discussing camera and so on)
Let's see what comes out of it..
How was life over here back in the old days?
-It was fine, here this is our house.
Tell us how was life, was life quiet?
-Life back then was alright, it was not like today. It used to be much more comfortable and better. And food was better, today food is contanimated.
What about the neighbours? And the people?
-We used to sit together with the neighbours and go together, today everybody is in his own house, in the older days we used to sit all together, talk together and so on.
They used to eat and drink, and everything was tasty. Today whatever you cook is not tasty. There is not taste in the food because everything is not natural anymore.
Can you tell me how does the settlers here affect you? The existence of settlers in Silwan today, how does it affect your lives?
-The other day they shot the son of my brother-in-law in both his legs, he lives in front of one of the settlers' houses, they are everywhere, behind us, underneath us.
The poor thing now is shot in both his legs, the poor thing.
Do you think that people are afraid now?
-Yes there are people who are afraid and people who are strong. One with a weapon is like one without?
Ofcourse not, what can a stone do?
It can do nothing, a stone in front of a weapon does nothing.
Can you tell us about your memories in this area? What about the water stream? Did you use to drink from this stream?
-We used to drink from it and fill and water vegetables and so, I used to carry two tanks on my head, like 2.5 tanks.
I used to pass through the small toilet here close to my bedroom but that was when I used to be stronger. Today I cannot hold a glass, I cannot even carry my hand. I used to plant all this land different kind of vegetables, parsely, spinach, we used to plant and sell but today nothing, we do not even have the strength.
-And I guess the people are no longer as tranquil as before?
Of course people are not like they used to be, they used to gather together but now everyone is in his own house. It is very rare today that you go visit close relatives. Back in the days, we used to eat different kind of vegetables like Khubbeizeh or Zahra, it used to be big like a brain and cook it with chicken and it used to be delicious. Today cook a lamb and it is not tasty.
We are all sick today with different diseases, there are those who have cancer, diabetes and so on.
I made a back desk operation since 17 years and here I am now still suffering from back pain.
-Hope you feel better.
When did the settlers start coming in? When did you start feeling the threat on your lives?
-Since they started living here, they kicked out the family of Ghuzlan, their mother is the sister of my mother-in-law. They came and attacked them and kicked them out.
How long ago is this?
-A long time ago, they came and attacked people and kicked them out, at the time of what's his name? ...The time of the one who they killed in Kuweit... what's his name? Faisal Husseini?
They kicked them out, one of their sons built his house and after he died they demolished it.
There's nothing more precious than a person's freedom. Today you keep being worried about the one who leaves the house until he comes back. Life is not good today, if life is still as before, you would put olive oil and olives, and eat the best food is better than today's lamb.
Today nothing is good, not food, not even bread, I feel awful when I eat today's bread.
(Mahasen is telling what they talked about (basically translating), then she starts again saying how much more delicious bread used to be)
And life is very difficult now because of everything she does not see taste to life anymore.
5 boys and 4 girls, 2 girls in America and one in Denmark, one in Amman.
If you look here for example this house is old, this is the house of Dar 7mode. Its an old house and the Jews are here.
There where you see the red grass belongs to the Jews.
And the owners of the house are where now?
Where are the owners of the house now?
Some of them are still here and my sister died in Zarqa.
However this one here who sold left to Haifa and his daughter drowned in the sea.
This house is for the Jews.
Back in the days all this area here were lands?
Yes mostly agricultural lands, there were not so many houses as today.
Yes people increased in number and started buying lands this land belong to Abu Saoud who bought this land.
This is Wadi Hilweh up there.
Here is another house.
This house is for the Jews, look at the flag,
Azmi's house is above it
and here there is a mosque, yes on the stream
they dug a tunnel to the wailing wall, 490 m or 400 m and some are to the left some to the right.
These are are Israeli buses?
-I think so I really do not know.
There is Silwan bus and their bus.
This is our road, where the red car is.
You told me that now people do not see each other anymore?
-Not a lot, you know people are busy with their work and finish work at 9 or 10 late.
(Mahasen saying something in English)
Do not worry about Nael, Nael is a good peson, he helps you no? There is a woman who comes and cleans.
talks about the cleaning woman
(still talking about general stuff and family)
Shaina, Nida and Ashok discussing something
(still taking shots and moving with the camera)...
(Ashok and Mahasen discussing)
Are there places still where people can gather?
-Here in this area? there are none left.
Meeting points or you know...
-We have a house here near us after this house like a compound house for all the families of Silwan they can meet each other here. They can also whatever do funerals weddings and is this an old place?
-An old house yes
And this has been happening for?
-No this is done new for all this what is going on
So it's as a reaction for Palestinians to gather and deal with their situations they are living under currently.
They rent the house for all this activities.
So there is some kind of local organization, yani people?
-Yes it started now.
And what do they do exactly, and what can they do?
-They are trying to do something like they make another house, not a house like a garage where they make a website for Silwan they name it by history of Silwan they do website for Silwan they are working for this, to raise awareness about... but nobody is helping them.
Nobody is helping them, they are trying to do something but nobody is helping them to do anything.
You know The Peace Now movement, they are working with the Peace Now also.
But of course, Peace Now cannot do anything. They do not have political power to make change.
So shall we go to the archealogical dig? -And this dig when did they start on it?
-They started before two years, that one right? left....
So they started two years on this?
-Yes they started digging it two years ago.
This was called Ein Silwan...
Go down more left more.... more... go inside.... up....
(Mahasen suggesting something ... )
So tell us a bit about when they started on this... what's the idea with it? What they wanted to do with that point?
-They started with this situation before two years ago- they start to dig in the area of Ein Silwan. Ein Silwan means a lot for Silwan.
It means something of thousand years ago they are saying that the water is passing from Mekka to here, thats the story, so its sacred in a way.
They are trying to take it for them to make a tourist place that everbody can go there and they must pay money for entering and passing the whole way through the water till ein Silwan, it started from Sitna Mariam, the entrance starts from Sitna Mariam and it ends at ein Silwan here where we are seeing this
Here where they are digging now, they are renewing the place as the story of the Jews says, the Jews say that this is the place where prophet Ishaq is, and they started here, they want to start from here then go up and take all the area
so basically they are taking this area and now they are putting a historical Jewish story to it
and they are managing it to be an income for the Jewish people also, so it is another religious tourist site
And what else can we see from here?
-We can also see here nearby they took the land, this house before five years also.
This house, it was taken before 5 years from somebody's family called Al Malhi.
And also they have already got the land for, it belonged to the,... which one?... the Christian orthodix or Christian catholic ...
Also this was a Christian land, they make it a park for the cars now, I can show it to you.
Go down here, you can see the cars here, so we can see here that they are also taking.
Here, they opened its a garage now and this originally belongs to the Greek orthodox church.
Here, but there are trees here you cannot see the cars inside...
We saw it on the way coming up.
Also the Arab people who are living here, they are forbidden from putting their cars inside the garage, it is just for the Jewish people.
You can see here it is a Jewish house, go inside, go up, right here, and see this house, right, this is the new house of the Jewish they got it also in the last 3 years, they renewed the house as you can see, all the houses around the Jewish house are forbidden to do anything in their houses, also in cleaning the walls of the house also
It is also forbidden and they are making new houses, so they took the house and they renovated it and they also made an extension, it is all new you can see it is all new.
How do you feel living in Silwan and being under all these cameras? Is it a struggle?
-We are facing a struggle, it is like some place you lived in and you try that hard way to stay in. And everything as we say is organized by the Jews, they are taking over house after house, land after land, and they are arranging themselves for the whole area- Silwan area, Bustan area, Ras al Amud, all this area around the holy land, around the Aqsa, around the Sitna Mariam, as they claim it all belongs to the temple mount of Suleiman, that they are willing to do it in place of the Aqsa ...the Aqsa mosque.
Shaina: In one site we are in the old city, inside the Muslim quarter, where Atarat Kohinim, .....aparently he and this Atarat Kohinim are the architects of this Silwan area,-
-and Gilad also
-Gilad and Atarat Kohinim also they are in the same way to do, pushing money from outside the country. They have a lot of money in the United States, they are pushing in all the money in here no matter how much it costs. The main idea is the target they are going for, is to take over the whole area no matter how much it costs.
Its costing them money,... just money.
They have the weapons, they have the guns, they have the whole country under their control. They are needing just money, now they are playing with the money, with people.
Large amounts of money and I do not know what to tell you about this, but this is their way for years so they bring money from outside, from the US, they raise funds from Jewish communities in the US and other countries and they bring the money here to take over and expand.
They have the permission for everything here, while the Arabs here have no permission to bring money from outside. They have no permission.
Also if you have a brother or sister or uncle that is willing to give you money to build a house for your family, you know every year the family grows bigger they need more houses, more schools. From everything they need more. Also from the food, so that it is forbidden for anybody to bring money from outside to do something here in this area.
(Shaina asking about the surveillance cameras and tunnels)
-They are building tunnels here. they are willing as we said before to take the whole area under their control, by Jewish people, they want all the people living in this area to have facilities outside of this area, they are making it close by the Jewish people. They are gathering themselves close to each other, taking this house and that, at the end people...
It is not one week or one month, it is years of struggle, it needs years for helping the people here to go for the knowledge of the Jewish people, to understand what is going on under the table and not just what we see. What we see is not the right thing, there are things going on under the table and nobody knows it.
And at the end we need here in this area to communicate with each other to have contact with the whole United Nations to see what is going on in reality.
(Mahasen is suggesting he tells us about it in Arabic)
The idea basically is that we can face the pressures the programmed Israeli pressured by Israeli Jewish organizations. For this we can say that we need the support, morally, financially, we do not ask for finances for the sake of it, but because of the situation, because the financial capacities of the people who are living here from the work they do, is not sufficient at all to cover the huge amounts of money asked by the Israeli Jewish organizations.
We are also not able to face them because they have a strategic advantage, they are armed with all kinds of weapons that cannot be faced.
For that we try with our culture, our insistence, our willingness, and moral strength, and kind nature, that we are an Arab Christian and Muslim nation. Also, the Jews, we do not deal with them in the same way that they deal with us.
We are a nature that is cultured, which is to be proud of. Most nations lack this, we are nation who have our principles, that guide us.
But at the same time we are not able to counter the Israelis
Exactly, we cannot because we are under pressures that are bigger than us.
These are pressures that we cannot as an occupied Palestinian nation face it except by appealing, we can appeal to the UN, to the union of Arab nations, to these people, there are lots of interviews, and lots of films. A lot of films have been shown and nobody said a word on them, because as I see in reality, I do not see that anybody cares.
The basic issue is that we as a nation appeal to the humanity of other nations for them to support us morally, spiritually. Any support they provide is a support given to a nation who wants to live. We demand that our nation for example has the freedom of culture.
All nations worldwide have their own culture, they have the freedom that when a person finishes school, they go to university, masters, phd,... Here we have very high expenses, a lot of people cannot face these things or help each other in them or educate their children.
We appeal to the world that we can maintain ourselves, educate ourselves, we do not appeal for anything else.
We face a lack of culture because our hands are tied and we are not able to do anything.
We are not able to build schools, houses, we are not able to provide health services. All these issues are related to one major thing which is the culture of the people.
If the people are educated, or if someone can help us that a people have culture built on correct principles based on respect of the others, respect of the self, on the respect of nations. But of course the people here are very much influenced by the occupation, and the occupation forces on us its culture, which is a culture that is chauvinistic based on settling in other people's lands, and it is a culture we do not accept.
Its a culture that is not built on ethical grounds.
(Mahasen is asking if there are other things in the area that we can see from this angle)
(they are discussing moving the camera)
(discussing going back)
(just normal chatter)
(Nael is telling some things about himself)
(camera change etc)
What is the flat?
-its Jerusalem is the Arab culture capital.
(Ashok whispering it's a camera)