After a day of catching up on sleep, I’m able to spend a few days as a ‘political tourist’ in Jerusalem, or al-Quds, as it’s known in Arabic.

I met up with a few other people who are, or intend to be, with ISM. It’s a small world. Sitting in the Palm one morning drinking tea, a girl comes in, says hello, then looks at me. She says ‘I know you’. It was Anna, whom I worked with on a PSC stall at a festival a couple of years previously.

I also met John, from Scotland, and through him a group from the Glasgow Palestinian Human Rights campaign (GPHRC) — see them in action. They are quite amazing. I would never get away with what they did. Take an incident by the Damascus Gate, the Old City, al-Quds. It was Ramadan, and Muslims fast during daylight hours. This means no eating, drinking or smoking. Often the Israeli soldiers decide to mock this by doing these things in front of the Palestinians. Not when GPHRC are there! One soldier lit up a cigarette, only to have Veronica begin to shout at him: “it’s Ramadan, what are you doing”. Then she gets out a camera and begins to take photos of him. He’s so embarrassed by this he discreetly puts out the cigarette. The Palestinians watching this are rather impressed. I overhear one guy talking to people around him, in Arabic so I don’t know what he’s saying, but he’s pointing to the soldier and to Veronica. He’s sees me looking at him, and simply says “thank you”.

While in al-Quds, there was another thing I had to do. In the report of my last trip I spoke of the time spent in Sheikh Jarrah defending the home of Um Kamel al-Kurd. A week after I left, the family were evicted in the middle of the night by hundreds of Israeli police and army.

Recently, two more families were evicted in the area — the Hanouns and the Ghawis. Both families then set up protest tents outside their occupied homes. I went to see the Ghawi family.

The protest tent in Sheikh Jarrah.

The protest tent

The Ghawis house — note the damage done during the eviction.

The Ghawis house — note the damage done during the eviction.

The family are determined and resilient, qualities the Palestinian people possess in abundance. They get regular visits from all kinds of people, from their neighbours to heads of state. One person who has been noticeable by his absence, however, is the ‘Middle East Envoy’, Tony Blair. Who lives a few hundred yards away in the American Colony Hotel.

I told them about the work of PSC in Britain, the boycott campaign, and the protest we held outside the Israeli Embassy the day after their eviction, and they seemed quite encouraged.

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