Inspiring News from East Jerusalem

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I'd like you to meet a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem, Mohammed El Kurd, who is the bearer of encouraging, even inspiring news but also of somewhat depressing news. Let's get the bad news out of the way. In the first of the two BhTV video clips below, Mohammed describes to me what it's like when Israeli settlers move onto property that has been your family's since 1956, refuse to leave, and make it their goal to intimidate your family into moving off the part of the property you still inhabit.

The good, truly uplifting news is that some Israeli Jews started demonstrating on behalf of Mohammed's family and other Palestinian families in his neighborhood. Here is the effect this had on Mohammed's world view:

Israeli courts have upheld the right of the settlers to stay where they are--which is kind of remarkable when you consider that, under international law, East Jerusalem, being outside of the "green line," isn't even part of Israel. Israel did unilaterally annex East Jerusalem, but even Israel's closest ally, the United States, doesn't recognize the annexation as valid.

Mohammed's story is told in a documentary called "My Neighbourhood," which was filmed when he was 11, right after the settlers moved in, and has recently come out on DVD. There's an eight-minute, condensed version of the documentary here, and the trailer for the documentary is here:

[Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Palestinians living in East Jerusalem aren't allowed to vote in Israel's national elections. That was inaccurate. Though most East Jerusalem Palestinians aren't eligible to vote, they are allowed to apply for Israeli citizenship and, if it is granted, they become eligible to vote. A large majority have chosen not to apply for citizenship for reasons including (1) the pre-requisites for citizenship laid down for East Jerusalem Palestinians (e.g. renouncing all other citizenship); and (2) the view, held by many East Jerusalem Palestinians, that by applying for citizenship they would implicitly validate the Israeli occupation. There's some background here and here.]

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Robert Wright is the author of, most recently, the New York Times bestseller The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic. More

Wright is also a fellow at the New America Foundation and editor in chief of Bloggingheads.tv. His other books include Nonzero, which was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book in 2000 and included on Fortune magazine's list of the top 75 business books of all-time. Wright's best-selling book The Moral Animal was selected as one of the ten best books of 1994 by The New York Times Book Review.Wright has contributed to The Atlantic for more than 20 years. He has also contributed to a number of the country's other leading magazines and newspapers, including: The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Time, and Slate, and the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. He is the recipient of a National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism and his books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

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