Friday, May 27, 2005

A Glimpse of Another Jerusalem

Yesterday, Sara and I went with a Druze friend of ours to Salah a'Din street in search of some Arabic literature. Sara and I have been to a number of small villages in the North of Israel in search of books, but I found my trip into East Jerusalem somewhat different. What struck me first was how nice East Jerusalem looked. Far from looking like a town under military lockdown, it had fancy stone paved streets and sidewalks (unlike the horrible asphalt sidewalks of West Jerusalem) and the buildings were all beautiful and in excellent condition. There was a lot of construction and the new buildings promised to add even more elegance to the neighborhood.

What I noticed next was how many Palestinian flags there were and how many signs and posters against Israel. The signs of Arab resistance to Israel were far more plentiful in East Jerusalem than in any Northern village we had been to. While we were there someone was shouting his support for the Al-Aksa Martyrs and we had to be careful to avoid speaking in Hebrew.

The bookstores were a great disappointment. Apparently, philosophy has gone out of style among the Arabs here and the closest thing we were able to find was a sort of encyclopedia of the important religious thinkers (which included no texts). While at the bookstores, I scouted out the collections of books in English. Since the Arabs of East Jerusalem have a lot of foreign visitors, they sell many books in English. I figured that these books may be able to give me an idea of how these Arab Jerusalemites wish themselves to be seen. The only book I saw on Palestinian culture was a short Palestinian cookbook. Every other English book was about the intifada or their suffering. I did not see a single book on architecture, art, music, etc.

On the whole I found the trip slightly nerve wracking and when I got home to my apartment (which is about five minutes away from Salah a'Din) I had a nice glass of Ouzo and returned to my study of epistemology.

Writing from Jerusalem,


1 comment:

Zev said...

It is funny that wealth breeds strife and struggle. In the French Revolution it were the Sans Culotte that were the most viscious and violent towards the aristocracy. The S.C. were not peasants but rather workers and shop owners--the people Marx later says that would fall into the proletariat. Poor people don't have the time to resist occupation.