LectureHop: This Is My Jerusalem
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog’s Infrastructural Warfare Correspondent Megan McGregor braved the snowstorm on Wednesday to report on Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkia’s lecture in the IAB.
On Wednesday evening, as we all know and enjoyed, classes and campus activities were cancelled due to the severe winter weather. Still, 707 IAB was packed with many shivering and damp individuals. Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkia, visiting from Jerusalem, braved the storm to deliver her passionate lecture, “My Jerusalem: Tense Politics of the Everyday,” to an eager crowd.
Professor Nadera is, among many things, a therapist, social researcher, feminist activist, senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the director of the Gender Studies Program at Mada al-Carmel in Haifa. She visited from the Old City of “her Jerusalem” not only to promote her new book Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case Study, but “to share with [us] the day to day events” that affect the lives of Palestinians living in Jerusalem after the erection of the Israeli West Bank “wall of separation.”
Professor Nadera began the evening by telling three stories of “the invisible order of power” in Jerusalem. The first of the three stories caused shivers that were unrelated to the bitter blizzard–a haunting story of Reem, a then fifteen-year-old Palestinian girl. Before the Israeli government changed the border between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Reem could travel to and from school without too much of a hassle. However, after the wall included her house inside the Old City and her school in the West Bank, what should have been a peaceful everyday activity became the source of a young girl’s shame. Every evening, Reem fought a fruitless battle for reentry with the Israeli soldiers guarding the wall, regardless of the fact that they saw her walk to school every morning. Since Reem did not have the proper ID, she could not reenter Jerusalem, even though the soldiers knew she lived just four minutes from the wall. The nearest alternative aboveground entrance through which Reem could access Jerusalem was forty minutes away. Reem, in order to save herself time and energy, and to avoid risking her safety, was forced to travel via the sewage pipes to and from school everyday. After enduring relentless ridicule from her classmates and teachers, Reem decided to stop going to school: “I feel like sewage,” she said. “I am treated like sewage.”
Professor Nadera also discussed the “infrastructural warfare” that occurs between Palestinians and the Israeli government in Jerusalem. Palestinians live in constant fear of the loss, if not demolition, of their homes, for they cannot even get a permit to build new homes. They have become displaced in their own city; they have lost all security: “[Their homes have become] a social, physical and economic trap.” Professor Nadera, despite the gravity of the situation in Israel, ended her lecture on a positive note. Reem, now 18 years old, recently contacted Professor Nadera with the sad report that two rooms of her house have been demolished, but that she managed to finish school and seeks help in enrolling at a university. “[I] always manage to find windows of hope,” said Reem. Professor Nadera stated that she is always profoundly amazed that so many young people manage to go to school and find work, despite the hazards and hardships of life in Jerusalem. She concluded her solemn and provocative lecture by asking her audience, “What can we do and how can we make my Jerusalem a better Jerusalem?” Despite differing views in the room, during the question and answer session, everyone seemed to agree with Professor Nadera–something must change to enhance the quality of life in Jerusalem.