The Grassroots Al-Quds (R)Evolution

For generations Jerusalem has been the political, economic and cultural capital of the Palestinian people and the region. History has proven the city to be of great relevance to many, its communities have seen their share of war. The 1948 Nakba shook the city and changed it forever. Over 30 Palestinian villages and communities in Jerusalem were forced from their homes. For the next 19 years, East Jerusalem was left under Jordanian rule. Empty Palestinian neighborhoods in the West such as Musrara, Katamon, Baka’a and others were to be settled according to Zionist policy, by Jewish Arabs, immigrants to Israel who were to become a buffer on the new border, the infamous Green Line.  Since 1967, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine and illegally annexed the rest of Jerusalem and Palestine, the Palestinian people in Jerusalem have gradually been fragmented and separated from the rest of Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza. Fragmentation began at first in the 70’s and 80’s, by manipulating Israeli municipal bylaws and legal status, later in the 90’s, as part of a “Peace Process”, using checkpoints and roadblocks, and finally, in 2003 with a physical barrier, a wall separating Jerusalem from its age old suburbs, neighboring villages and townships. Changing historic and geographic continuity in the region, Bethlehem was cut off from the South, Ramallah from the North, and by blocking the 4000 year old Jericho Road, Ezaria (Bethany) and Abu Dis from the East. The separation devastated the infrastructure, economy and political status at first, and later, local culture, education levels and housing were systematically degraded by the Israeli government and municipal policies geared to Judaize Jerusalem.

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Today, Palestinian communities suffer the violent presence of illegal Israeli settlements in the heart of almost every neighborhood in Jerusalem, intentionally making the two state solution impossible. Communities are at risk, residents are under threat, and the historical fabric of the great city is torn by current Israeli policies. Jerusalemite Palestinians are gradually being ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem.  Nevertheless, Jerusalem remains the capital of Palestinian people. Jerusalemite Palestinians are proud of their age-old heritage. They are known worldwide for their steadfastness and for their resourcefulness. Both qualities are powerfully rooted in the Palestinian communities of Jerusalem.  Grassroots Jerusalem celebrates these communities.

Grassroots Jerusalem is a platform for social, urban and human rights activists and organizations in Jerusalem.  We seek to strengthen Palestinian grassroots network that will represent the community voice that disobeys, opposes and nonviolently resists the occupation.  We amplify the local resources available for and from grassroots activist leaders and organizations.  We create virtual and real environments for meeting, sharing information, educating, growing, coordinating and co-operating on shared issues of urgent and long-term concern.  We contribute to the emergence of a healthy Palestinian Jerusalem.

-Spreading Grassroots Knowledge

Rooted in the age-old communities, a wealth of wisdom and experience is available to organizations and activists. However, in order to further minimize the contribution of the Palestinian experience to the culture, religion, politics and economy of Jerusalem, disinformation is intentionally used for political reasons. Neighborhoods, streets and parks are given Hebrew names. Zionist narratives are widely spread by official and non-official Israeli sources. In order to counter policies to Judaize Jerusalem, Grassroots Jerusalem helps communities to create maps, books, websites, and other materials to promote a more accurate portrayal of local realities.

- We Love Grassroots Activist, local leaders and organizations!

Despite Israeli oppression, there are many Palestinian community organizations and initiatives, a strong civil society that address community issues from education and economy, to social justice and human rights. However, there are not enough safe, shared public spaces for activists and community-based organizations in Jerusalem from which they can work. Community leaders and activists are often harassed and threatened by Israeli police and even arrested.  Our community activist center in Sheikh Jarrah, Markaz Al-Kul, provides a home, heart and office space for community activists, while also providing resources (internet, library, info-centre, etc.) to amplify their work.

-Seeing our Blind Spots

The fragmenting Israeli policies in Jerusalem often cause local Palestinian organizations and activists to be unaware of each other’s existence or work. By administering our Grassroots Community Assessment, building an Open Source Map of Jerusalem and hosting the Grassroots Al-Quds Network, we enable activists and organizations to contribute to a live portrait of shared issues and activities in Jerusalem.  From institutional oppression, to civil disobedience, and violence to positive signs of change, more information is now available. Activists and organizations are more equipped to network, co-ordinate, and exchange information and to develop innovative approaches to common challenges.

- Yalla! Direct Action! Get to work!

In Athens, Cairo, New York or Damascus, the revival of indigenous heritage and grassroots movements is proving to be the growing alternative to current oppressive systems. This global network is based on the values of Justice, Organization, Direct Action and Community. Grassroots Jerusalem is a home for those who oppose the occupation in Jerusalem, for building alternatives to oppressive systems, as well as for realizing Jerusalem’s fullest potential. As a hub of information and initiatives, getting involved is as easy as walking through the door at Markaz AlKul or at the click of a mouse on the Al-Quds Network. Come on over, the (r)evolution has already begun!