Things are relatively quiet in Bethlehem at the moment. Some may think that this is a good sign. Some may even go so far as to say that the existence of the blog should be in question in this time of relative quiet.
I believe however that the role of the blog is to highlight this truth; There does not need to be blood and explosions for the occupation to cause suffering. Let me give you one small example to illustrate this point.
A friend of mine recently told me that he was engaged. He's a wonderful guy and so naturally I was very pleased to here the news. I asked him where his future wife is from and if I already know her. He replied that she is from Jerusalem. They met and fell in love whilst they were both representing their organisations at a meeting abroad. It was such great luck, when you think about it, that they live so close to each other.
Unfortunately, when you live under occupation with no civil rights, things are never that simple.
She is from Jerusalem and he is from Bethlehem. Both of them are from Arab cities, born within 7miles (10km) of each other. This is where the Aparthied kicks in. As a resident of Bethlehem he will not be able to live in Jerusalem as Israel does not believe that non-Jews have a right to freedom of movement.
On the other hand, Arabs that live in Jerusalem (often the descendents of people who have lived their for centuries.) have been classed as sub citizens ever since the illegal and unilateral theft of East Jerusalem in 1967 – an act which has been condemned by numerous UN resolutions – since then the Arabs of the city have been graciously granted 'residence', but not citizenship, in the city in which they were born.
This means that if she lives outside the city for more than a few years then she risks losing here Jerusalem ID, and therefore, losing any right to return to her birth place, her home and her family.
How long can this absurd situation remain in place? To all the Israelis reading this post – Do you really
believe that the restrictions placed on this couple have anything
to do with security? With all the new Jewish only settlements being illegally built in East Jerusalem, do you not even have the slightest
suspicion that this might be something to do with ethnic cleansing? Why does your great democracy not grant residency to people who were born in your country? Open your eyes and see what is right in front of you. This Aparthied needs to end if Israel is ever to have any chance of maintaining its credibility.