The Neighbour Before the House: The Three Dimensionality of Borders
Duration: 01:50:54; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 41.532; Saturation: 0.019; Lightness: 0.494; Volume: 0.152; Cuts per Minute: 8.457; Words per Minute: 43.971
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.
We are in Aqabat Khaldiyeh in the Muslim quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. With the Israeli occupation in the city, the number of Jewish settlements are increasing. This house in front of us is called Shufo Baneem. They used severe measures with the individual who did not willingly leave this house. They killed an old woman from the Abu Mayalleh family so they take the rest of the house over. According to their story, this house belongs to Jews. If this was true then it's logical that they go back to it and this way we could also go back to our homes which we fled in 1948. They use the power of weapons, force and terror against Palestinians living inside the Old City. Following a religious point of view, they want to take over what they call "Jabal Al-Haykal" which is where the Dome of the Rock is.
- Not the Dome of the Rock, but al Aqsa
Yes, the whole area of dome and al Aqsa
There is a vast area between al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock and they believe that is the ancient location of Jabal al-Haykal (or the Temple Mount).
A short while ago, it was published in the media that underneath the tunnel, here, which was previously called the area of Hamam al-'ayn, based on the the hamam that is at the enterance of Suq Qataneen.
Underneath this building here, was the furnace that heats the bath or the hammam. Now it's a synagogue and below there is digging and there are tunnels that extend to vast areas in the Old City. I have video footage from inside these tunnels.
They call this "Khaymat Ishaq" "O'hay IIshaq" and it is located to the Western Wall of al Aqsa, which they call the Wailing Wall.
They took this house approximately in 1967 or in 1968 and to this day we hear underground explosions and people used to think that these were earth quakes but in actuality these were digs to open tunnels towards the al Aqsa. They even dried up some of the water wells underneath the Old City and they used these wells to reach points underneath al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock.
As early as 1967, they were infiltrating into the Old City. The catastrophic defeat in 1967 paralyzed us and it took us some time to understand what was happening. I was a child then and I learned from my father how my grandparents fled Jafa in '48 and we learned how difficult it is to leave and come back to ones' land.
In 1967, they came to the house that is adjacent to the house I am in now. The house is considered a house for the Jews of Shughu Baneem. You can't see it well from here but do you see the wall. The house below. Move more, more, yes, the house with the pieces of wood on the roof is a house of a Jew. This house is there with the fenced floor is for my father and now my brother lives there with his family. This is were I was born.
This is now a Jewish house. They took what they could and there is a Palestinian family that still lives there who are pursuing law suits.
In 1967 the Jews forced us out of it with rest of the residents under the pretext that it is a Jewish house.
At that time part of this house was under -Hares Amlak al adu- an office under the ministry interior in Jordan that protects the propoerties of people including Jews. This house was under the Israelis. It was rented to people by the government as if it was part of hars amlak al-ghaibin which is rented. There is another section that is called amlak al-gha'bin- property of the absentees, people who left before and after 1967. There were never ending law suits and theorginial Jewish owner of the house brought us back to it. He said this is my private house and i don't want you to be thrown in the streets. I want you to stay just like you did before but you have to pay me rent, what ever you used to pay to the hars amlak aladu
And he asked for a low rent and with time he died and he donated it to an association and some religious zealots won elections in the association and they took it over. And they don't want any Arab to live next to a Jew. Part of the people are protected by law and the other part fell bait to israel when the governmnet informed them that it wants to set new rent fees and they signed on the new contracts which anulled previous contracts. My brother abu Bassem may he rest in peace did not agree to sign. He told them he will only uphold the old contract.
-Why did they create a new contract?
The association knows that we are ignorant in the law and of the protected rent-al-mahmi- rent before 1967.
You know I have heard about this from a guy who lived here. That one day an israeli lawyer came to him and he had a contrcat that he wanted to convince to sign. instead of paying $100 you pay $60 and he went for it. He wanted to cut down on his expenses and a some time later he received an evacuation order. He told them that he was protected under the law, however, he wasn't because the new contract he signed anulled the previous one of August 1 1968.
Yes this house, this dome is for Shofe Baneem whih is adjacent to another house owned by a Jew.
One comment, I see fence there...
This was put during the 1st intifada when a zionist was killed here. These settlers threw molitov bombs, stones and trash at the Arabs. The Islamic Waqf put the roof fence up to protect the peole but unfortunately it looks like Aushchwitz camps!!!!!! We did not cause the extermination of the Jews, the Europeans did. And now we are paying for it.
This is the area of Shufu Baneem, the return of the children, they are recruited from Jews with Arab origin. They know Arab culture and the majority of them vote for extreme right, because they consider that right wing parties serve the Jewish people. The westerners Ashkinazi Jews became aware of the loss of a homeland and in general they have more understanding to the Palestinian cause. (fallaous!!!)
These settlers are criminals, drug dealers, units in special forces, a complete gang. They break the door and walk in. There is more violence orientation than a religious one. They are there to disturb Palestinians and force them to leave their houses.
This synagouge, under it was the furnace and Arabs were living on the top, they came by force, kicked them out and the Jews in 1967. Settlers used to put explosives to force people to leave.
We know that the area in front of the western wall was inhabited by Arabs for Maghreb. They bulldozed the area and now they want to control the adjacent areas by terrorising Palestinians. They used to set up explosives and claim that it's done by Palestinians. Of course this does not negate all the brave fights that the fida'een undertook. They want to kick people out of their homes and hence they change the demographics of the city and the forcing out of the indigenous people. In 1948 they were a few thousands, we were in the millions, and today it's the oposite. Today we see in Jerusalem how our Christian brothers, they have their own quarter, we have the Afghan areas, the African area, we do not discriminate.
It is surprizing that in this area classified as Muslim we see homes for settlers. The aim is to take over the homes in this area, Muslim quarter. If one Muslim goes, ten Jews come in his place. They come here because it is holy. And they practice violence to kick us out of the old city to live behind the wall.
What they call the 'Wailing wall' is the most sacred to the Jews, why? And it is so close to the Aqsa?
I think the decison to be in this spot is to work from these homes and dig tunnels underneath the Aqsa.
In 1980's one of the guards to the haram, discovered sounds at night. The well that is near Suq Qattaneen was filled with tons of concrete and iron to prevent them from coming up. But they have other areas to dig from. And there are Roman tunnels in the city that they use, reaching out to Silwan.
Do u know how many synagouges are there in the Muslim quarter?
-The homes are more than the synogauges. There are 3 synagoagues.
Maybe this is how they do it, they kick people out to turn the city into religious areas.
We heard that on the top of the Maktaba Tankaziyah where the religious court is, they are planning the largest synagogue in the world.
Also, there are other plans that you can see from lions gate. You can see pillars on the way where they will build Jabal Al-Haykal.
Maybe the first step is to divide it and then to take over the Aqsa.
One of the tunnels has an electric platform for the Aqsa and Sakhra that chnage to show how they want to build the temple.
-Can u tell us about the sematary?
It is a very sacred thing to the Jews to be burried in that semetary. We don't have a preferance for where we are burried in this land as long as we are burried near the Aqsa or around it. The Jews are the same in a way, but they only want that area. The tomb costs a lot. They are either very (?) in the religious or political ranks, Begin and his wife are burried there.
-I heard that this sematary was established after 1967.
It expanded. The original Jewish sematary was adjacent to the road and the story has it that it's contracted by the religious court for 99 years. The other story is that they prefer to be burried here because that's where christ is gonna come back from and enter Jerusalem from Bab Al-Rahma and the Muslims have burried their dead in front of Bab Al-Taubah to be an obstacle in the way.
Documnetation shows that in Al-Rahma sematary by Bab Al-Asbat, there are 12 sahabies of the prophet.
But their's is maximum 100-200 years old.
How come the Muslims wanted to be in their way since the the semetary goes back to thousands of years ago?
-The state of Israel is a state of lies and myths. They should not be in Jerusalem because God declared that it's not for them as punishment.
Bonapart and French and the maskeleen, educated--
More, more, that's the Agusta Victoris, Jabal Al-Zatoun..
That's a hotel. It was the Intercontitental before and now it's the 'Seven Arches'. On 28th May, 1964 the first National Council met to declare the establishment of the PLO. It was opened by King Husseini and in the presence of Palestinian and Arab leaders. The first PLO leader was Ahmad Shukayi, then Yehya Hamoud and the Yaser Arafat and currently Abu Mazen.
We want to get to this house.
The Jews do not allow Palestinians to build inside or outside the old city because there isn't enough space to build. With the increase in the number of people in Jerusalem, Israel wants Palestinians to live in the areas of the Palestinian Authority. And again, this is the change in the demography that they want to do. I renovated this house at my own expense and I built a room for my son who is in Sweden now and unfortunately he may be never coming back after he saw that the house was demolished. He believed that it is difficult to live here and the burden of life is so great these days. In Israel, rent is expensive, the cost of living is high, he saw that is very difficult here so he left.
We notice the houses with Israeli flags, they renovated it and it's not a problem if they revovate but we can't. The municipality penalized me. It is very obvious to us what Israel is going and we are now dealing with the situation with more knowledge and we will not leave. We have resilence to stay here.
In addition we have problems with our education system in Jerusalem. Our schools are over-crowded. After 1967, we refused to send our kids to Israeli school because it did not teach them Palestinian education. This refusal created a big problem here.
Previously, private schools used to do the job for a good amount of money. We had to stress ourselves to pay the fees of our kids' education. Private schools cost 6000-7000 shekles. If one was a labourer with 5-6 kids it's very difficlt to sustain a living. This is one of the resons why kids leave school at an early age and they don't finish their education. They see their fathers working hard to make ends meet so they lave school and go work as labourers in Israel.
Israel won this way, first our kids are ignorant because...
-Our strength is in our culture.
Only our culture and education will help our Palestinian cause.
A lot of guys these days have been demoralized and go and work in Israel as labourers. In the future these guys are burden on our society. They get injuries and need help.
These roofs are Palestinians'.
These are not homes, these are boxes.
This house is called bayt Al-Maghriba. according to their story there is a Moroccean Jewish woman who bought this house and she built the 3 floors and opened an association to help the elderly and poor. They used to cook food and it was shelter for the homeless.
Now it is occupied by Jeweish families.
This house is connected to a tunnel.
When we were kids, this house had many entry points. it seems it leads to a lot of areas.
Now they go, here look...
She sees us.
This is considered rare...
He is looking at us, look
This house here on the roof they have a sukkat, families sleep in there. On the third floor there is a religious school. It's difficult to live with extremeists for neighbours. They are not here to learn the torah but to mae us leave. They believe that this is a house where Jews used to live. i don't know if that is true or not. next to it there is a house callled hazon. with the green awening. Tilt down, yes, it's called the dream house. On it's roof they made a religious school and they called it peace. This takes us to the adjacent house.
This is under threat to be demolished because it's adjacent to the Jewish home, it's for Arabs.
-what is this wood?
When they first come in they put wood, they they change it with something more premnent and they stay.
Our eyes today are towards the Aqsa and in the mean time they do whatever they want. And we have to be very careful these days because we know alAqsa is under threat.
They established the boundaries and later on they continue with it.
Do u see that window? We were all born there.
We put them under surveillance.
See what we are doing with this camera and see what they do with their serveillance cameras.
Sometimes, the security guards come up to check and they pretend that they thnk it's a Jewish home, with this camera I can sue them and prove that they come up here.
This camera is very good.
-it's like the Israeli police camera.
This means peace but the Jewish can speak about peace but he can't make it.
I have a question please... Is it true that you were imprisoned?
The first time in 1974, in the beginning of the Palestinian revolution. It was an honour that some people from the African community were comitted to the Palestinian cause with other Palestinians and we grew up seeing our country taken and we were affected by the Palestinian revolution. At that time after the 1973 war there was a huge wave against us locally and we were affected by the people who were imprisoned by the israeli. so we started resisting in our own ways. We weren't looking for parties to join but I used to write on walls politcal slogans and we were attacking settlers on their way to jerusalem. We used to vandalize public facilities not becasuse we were seeking vandalism but that's wha we could as an expression of resistance.
There was an organization that encompassed all the Palestinian groups-Jabha Wataniyah. And we were kids. We just wanted to resisit and a guy used to give us what we needed to do. We used to to think we were carrying orders from high about. We were imprisoned in 1974. Felitzia Langer, the lawyer wrote about us "children led to the prison of accusation".
I don't get surprised now if my 9 year old gets called for intorregation for throwing a stone. But at that time they did not consider children part of the resistance. So they were surprised that we were school kids and there were girls among us. I was sentenced for 2.2 years with another guy. Some got 1.5 years sentence.
And the second time I was arrested in 1980 when the Israelis opened a tunnel from Khaymay Ishaq until the water well towards the Haram Sharif. And one of the guards pointed that out.
And the 3rd time in 1983, then 1985 and I was sentenced for two life sentences and 20 years for resisting the occupation and for killing a collaborator. Then I was released based on a request from Yaser Arafat to include Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem to the list of prisoners to be released through a brokered deal. Unfortunately, there is huge negligence for the Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem and areas of 1948 to include them in the classification of prisones.
Our choices are limited, we hold temporary ID cards and we are vulnerable to the laws of the State of Israel. We either leave Jeruslame and go to the west bank or leave Palestine.
How did they treat you in prison?
-In the 70's it was more difficult than later on because with science they found other ways of getting information out of you. Also, they developed a culture of collaborators. The cameras, the informers and so it's by "Ghost" methods that they get information now before it was through beating. Now there is the rolling chair, you sit on it and keep revolving. The eyes get crossed. They throw cold water on us in winter. Confining us to small spaces where one is neither sitting nor standing. Also, the officers in prison play good cop bad cop.
A lot of the fidaeen also fell bait to the informers inside prison.
How did you spend your time in prison?
-Every prisoner suffers. The ones that are sentenced for a long time, they suffer from halucinations and they become broken and some go bad and develop psychological problems. Or, you will devlop youself and play sports and study.
Your personal experience?
I was in trouble. My kids were kicked out of school, although it was an Islamic institution, because they could not pay the fees. My son became violent and he hit the school principal and he refused to go to school. He was demoralized because his father was in prison and his mom could not cover his school fees. So, they left school though they were good students. Yes, they are okay now and they got married and they work, however, their level of education is very low.
Like any other dad, I would have liked them to reach the education level they wanted.
I practice this with my grandson, Taha, currently. I encourage him to study. My children's suffering made me to take care of young people in prison and the illiterate ones. I used to teach them Arabic.
Also, my Hebrew is very strong and I developed it by a personal intiative. I got dictionaries and I read articles and developed my reading, wriitng and speaking skills. I learned how they think through their language. Maybe this may sound weird but to confront a Jew you have be one- you need to know your enemy. You need to be able to state you opinion and be strong infront of him. When I was in prison, I used to see Comrade Ali Jaddeh on TV presented the Palestinian cause in an honest, open and strong way. He was strong as rock. And he was still determined to continue on yet he suffered from long emprisonmnet. This made me think that he is aware and educated. An illiterate, ignorant person can not speak for his cause. I taught a big group of young men in prison Hebrew. I used to study with Samir Quntar, the promenent Lebanese prisoner. I shared a cell with him and we studied at the same university and I kept my mental balance through sports.
I studied for an MA in Political Science but I did not receive the certificate yet because I am overwhelmed with the demolition case and courts, my son's departure and work. I don't have time to complete it, let alone the very tight financial situation I am in. My house that got demolished was paid for in bank loans. Half of my salary goes to covering debt.
We know that our men who are not educated, their only option is to work as laborors in Israel. They are paid low wages and they cannot afford the cost of living.
How long did you spend in prison?
-I spent 16 years in Nafha.
I went to Shata prison and then I was released.
Coping in society after imprisonment?
-We had to convince ourselves that we have to adapt, yet we cannot because prison education and morals are not in line with how society functions. For instance, if I tell someone to meet at 5:05, I'll be thre at the exact time. People are not honest and they do not respect friendship, they don't respect time. Family ties are being broken and social affinity, previously witnessed during the 1st Intifada, is dissolving because of the attack of occupation on Jerusalem and also due to a lack in suport from concerned sides. All these issues accumulate and you start to feel that you don't fit in. My wife is strong and patient and she bears a lot to takes care of her family, she tells me sometimes that I have the prison complex. I am not sure if we have a complex or tey do not undersatnd what we suffer. I read once in a book for Hasanain Haykal that if a perosn is imprisoned for 24 hours they develop psychological problems, let alone someone who is imprisoned for 20 years. There are diffrences in how we see things.
Do you think you are a new person?
-Some people tell me that I wasted my life in perison. But I look at it diferently. There are morals that a person is brought up on and I pesonally cannot turn a blind eye to injustice. A few days ago it was my son's birthday and I was praying for him from what the Jews will bring in the future to his life. God only knows how they will manage. With us, we went through crises but we got used to it but the future is dim.
We wish our prisoners the best.
Sometimes we say that we have to avoid things because of age and because we have grandchildren but all stops when it comes our to dignity and the aqsa. I don't pray but I went to the aqsa last week during the last problems. I went to pary in the morning. My wife told me that we go together we die or live together. I told her what about our son, she said he has a God to protect him. I could not convince her to stay home. Also, my other son called me and he said that he got into trouble with work and he took his son with him to aqsa. he put his son in danger. He sent his son with a friend and he stayed n al-aqsa.
Do you feel settled?
-No I still dream that the prison guard comes and tells me "number!"
Today we were in Izariyah, it was a nice gesture from the local council, the made a circle and dedicated it to the prisoners of jerusalem. We would like to see prisoners from jerusalem supported. I have a role to raise awareness about the issue of prisoners. We have prisoners who spent 27 years in prison
Ala albazian for instance, his father died a week ago and he was imprisoned for 28 years.....
A big number of prisoners are sentenced long sentences and they come from Jerusalme and areas of 1948. You can imagine how his family suffered. We need to work on a media campain to support prisoners. Look at Gilad Shlit, Ron Arad, ask anyone and they know who they are. But if you ask how many prisoners are there in Israel prisons, no one knows.
Why do you think prisoners from Jerusalem were excluded?
-There was a gap in Oslo and the with dealing with prisoners in times of war or peace. The PA thought that all prisoners will be released but that did not happen.The Jews classified us.
This affected the morale of prisoners. In prison, prisoners from Jerusalem do not mix with prisoners from areas of the PA in Israel prison. Prisoners from the 1948 areas are also separated alone as they are viewed as traitors to the State.
The Palestinian people neglected the prioner's cause as it's the people who decide the agenda.
How do you know Mahoud?
-Mahmoud is a special person. I had friends, Sharaf who was from the African community and they were among the first fid'een in my neighbourhood. That made me proud.
I come from a family of fighters for the liberation of Palestine. My father was injured in 1948 and my mom helped the wounded.
This house is the house of Abdul Rahm Jaber, the early fida'een. We also have Dar Abu Mayyadeh they are also among the fist fida'en. Mahmoud and Ali Jaddeh were also among the fist fid'een.
In the 70's, we used to be proud we were fighting the occupation and blaming people why they did not do like us.
Today the ethics of resistance is different and people don't understand us.
I personally only feel comfortable when I spend time with ex- prisoners.
My friend is Omar Qasem and my partner in action. Mahmoud and Ali Jaddeh are also my friends from PFLP and I was from Fatah.
This thinking was not even fathomable then.
It was impossible to say I am Fatah and he is PFLP. Today this does not exist. Divisions are between fatah, hamas and PFLP. Abu Ali Mustafa, when I gave a lecture in univeristy once, he helped me direct my speech and argument. I learned from him social and decisive issues. He was PFLP and I was Fatah. He showed me what issues I should raise at university and how. I had to give the lecture to a crowd of extremists but I used to lecture in prison to prisoners and that helped me overcome my fear.
I also had the experience of talking at the hebrew university and the crowd was very much against with what I said but slowly slowly, I convinced them.
In hebrew I tell them I am proud to kill the cancer that you create.
Why it is okay for the the french to kill the english?
The morally responsile side for the death of collaborators is Israel...........
At the end they came and shook hand with me and thanked me.
The was a guy here who Meir Kahana was his uncle. His name was Avraham and he was a extremist. He left Telpiot to come and live here in the old city in a small space. When Mohammad Durra was killed, we called him in to look at the TV and show him how Isarel was killing a child. He came in and saw how Mohammad was being killed. He was very affected by what he was. He left the house and he stopped being an extremist. Until this day we are friends.
When I came out of jail, Faisal Husseini made a celebration for us and he was crying. There was an Israeli journalist in the event. Faisal was crying. She asked me why is he crying? So I told her 'you ask him'. He told us his tears were the tears of happiness and sadness together.
How do we live in a city and we know that we are being watched?
It's an awful experience. It's like in jail where we had cameras everywhere and in the old city I feel like I am in jail and they invade my privacy.
How was the experience, we wanted to give the power that .....................
...........after I saw this camera, I wanted to get one for our protection and also to see what I can't usually see.