I’m happy to make available to JWN readers Part 1 of a seven-part series I wrote about Jerusalem for Al-Hayat, back in July 1995. It’s here.
Getting this series into uploadable– and also, potentially editable– form is part of an ongoing project to data-mine some of my own past writings (especially those that are not readily available, even to me.) This Jerusalem series from 1995, for example: I think I have it on a floppy disk, someplace. But I don’t have a floppy disk reader any more, and anyway I’ve shifted from a PC to a Mac… What I do have are two yellowing paper copies of the whole series, a scanner, and some new OCR software that I’m still assessing. (ReadIris… not too bad, but not great either. On the other hand, a lot more affordable that Adobe Acrobat.)
Actually, I got the series commercially scanned since my scanner doesn’t have a sheet-feed, and then started doing the OCR.
Working with this material has been interesting: poignant and also extremely depressing. I spent about three weeks in Jerusalem in the summer of 1995, doing the research and interviews for it… Oh my goodness, how much worse the situation of the city’s Palestinians has gotten since then!
Poignant: There was the material from interviews I conducted Faisal Husseini, who passed away in 2001 (RIP). There was Faisal’s great but already heavily threatened institution, Orient House, which Ariel Sharon shut down a few months after Faisal’s passing.
That latter Wikipedia page notes,
- Items confiscated by the Israeli government included personal belongings, confidential information relating to the Jerusalem issue, documents referring to the 1991 Madrid conference and the Arab Studies Society photography collection. Also the personal books and documents of the late Faisal al-Husseini were summarily impounded.
What hooligans the Israeli authories sometimes are…
One of my main aims in republishing the 1995 series on Jerusalem now is to underline a couple of things:
- 1. The fact that the kinds of challenges the Jerusalem Palestinians face today are by no means new. They’ve been living in this situation of extreme threat for a long time already.
2. The fact that the policies pursued by the Israeli authorities toward the Jerusalem Palestinians started to become significantly harsher right after the conclusion of the Oslo Accord in 1993. From the point of view of Faisal Husseini or other Palestinian Jerusalemites, Oslo was a crock of nonsense that radically undermined rather than increasing their security.
One last note. The OCR really isn’t that great. (Or maybe I need to use it more smartly.) So I’ll put up the pieces in this series one at a time, as I can.