The August issue of This Week in Palestine (TWiP) is dedicated to West Jerusalem with the caption: ‘We Too Shall Never Forget.’ The term West Jerusalem refers to those neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, outside the walls, that were occupied by the new state of Israel in 1948 and as a result were cut off from the rest of the city (which was occupied by Jordan until 1967 and became known as East Jerusalem). German Colony, Katamon, Baq’a, Talbiyeh, Greek Colony were neighbourhoods of Palestinian middle classes of all stripes: Christian, Muslim, Arab, Greek, Armenian… ‘In May 1948, an entire educated, cultured, cosmopolitan, and vibrant community of Palestinians was decimated. True, many moved on and rebuilt what they had lost, but the scar remains and the injustice continues. Somehow, this scar is genetic and is passed on from one generation to another,’ writes Sani Meo, publisher of TWiP, in The Last Word of the issue.

Read more

This was first published on the author’s personal blog on 5 Jan 2018
– the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Semiramis.


It was a dark and stormy night. No, it truly was! “Torrential rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning fell in Jerusalem all Sunday night“, wrote The Palestine Post on 6 Jan 1948 noting that the belfry of the Dormition Abbey had been struck by lightning and windows had been broken. “Throughout the night there was heavy rain and one thunder-clap at 3.50 a.m. awakened many persons in all parts of the city.

Like in most of the neighbourhood, in a corner stone house in upper Katamon, only a few blocks away from the monastery and church of St Simeon, the Kassotis family – my mother (just a week short of her 18th birthday), her parents and two sisters – would have been awoken much earlier, had the storm allowed them to sleep in the first place. To begin with there was the sound of grenade for at 1 am on Monday, 5 January, 1948 – exactly 70 years ago – the Hotel Semiramis, two doors down the street from the Kassotis, came under attack by the Haganah, the Jewish  militia.

Kassotis house in Katamon.
Photographed by Jules Parisinos, April 1974
Read more

Two heads, one bald, one full-hair, are peeking out from above the red velvet chairs. Their owners, Anwar Ben Badis and Mona Hajjar Halaby, who conduct the Arabic and English tours, respectively, of the Jerusalem, We Are Here (JWRH) interactive documentary, are exchanging family memories of the place. Dorit Naaman, the creator and director, joins them as up on the big screen fragments of an old reel start rolling.

It’s July 2015 and we are filming the opening shots of JWRH at the Regent, the longest-running cinema in Jerusalem. Today it has a different name, but to us, as we go about remapping this area and bringing back, albeit digitally, the people and the life that existed here till 1948, it is and always will be the Regent.

Filming at the Regent – July 2015
Read more