Jerusalem Story aims to tell the story of a unique city through a new lens—that of the city’s large and diverse indigenous Palestinian community.
This community has deep historic roots in Jerusalem and holds the strongest attachment to and love for their city. Yet, they have been subjected to unrelenting efforts to erase their presence in, and potential claim to, the city—past, present, and future—in the service of cementing Israel’s imperative of claiming sole sovereignty in perpetuity over a “united Jewish Jerusalem.” This effort, targeted through an overriding demographic imperative to maintain a Jewish majority to ensure control over the city, started decades ago and has taken myriad highly destructive forms, continuing to the present day, as is openly acknowledged by Israeli officials and decision-makers, and as our website and many other sources amply document.
This community has been doubly abandoned by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership outside it, effectively orphaned.
This community has been doubly abandoned by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership outside it, effectively orphaned. Its legal status is uniquely precarious and unlike any other group’s status in the world. It has no properly elected representation, and no judicial recourse against the juggernaut of state power that is levied against it. It is possibly one of the most closely surveilled communities in the world, living in a police state where every utterance might be used to ensnare. Innocuous encounters with state agencies can result in an arbitrary decision to revoke legal status, meaning forced uprooting from the city, with devastating effect on families and neighborhoods. Fear is so pervasive that most Palestinian Jerusalemites sharing their stories with us insist on anonymity. Collective trauma is ubiquitous.
And yet, despite these immense hardships, Palestinian Jerusalemites go to unimaginable lengths to remain in Jerusalem, because their rootedness in their city is so deep and fundamental.
This website tells their stories.
This website tells their stories—of how they have to twist and distort their lives just to stay in their own city; how every life choice is somehow affected by the labyrinthine regulations and state requirements that they must navigate daily; and how they nonetheless find their own ways resist the system, even in the smallest of everyday actions. At the end of the day, merely remaining a resident of a city whose authorities seek your removal is in itself an act of resistance, one for which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians pay an unimaginably high price.
We launched this project to tell this story. In so doing, we hope to create a virtual space that can serve as an evolving hub for this community’s stories and lived realities. We aim to recreate community, restore connection, give voice, inspire research, build knowledge, and shine a hard spotlight on the dystopian policies that are causing immeasurable harm to so many in a unique and historic city that should be a cherished world treasure.
We hope this project will raise challenging questions about the dark realities that exist in today’s Jerusalem and thereby create momentum for change.
“I Dream of Jerusalem in Navy,” Dalia Ali, 2019
What We Offer
This website offers diverse types of content, approaching our story from various angles:
- Topics, which are grouped under Themes, offer carefully researched deep analysis as well as lighter content including feature stories, personal stories, videos, photos, infographics, and more—all centered on a specific topic.
- Bios enhance topics by delving into life stories of Palestinian Jerusalemites who have made myriad and diverse contributions to their city’s history and community fabric, helping to shape the larger Jerusalem Story over time.
- Topics and bios are enhanced by an online contextualized Lexicon.
- Jerusalem Notebook, our blog, explores Jerusalem with a Palestinian eye and sensibility.
- Quick Facts helps clarify key facts quickly for those facing deadlines or who prefer bits and bites.
- Organizations on the Ground provides a directory of Palestinian organizations on the ground that work on Jerusalem.
- The Big Picture is an overarching section that distills the complex story told here down to its essence.