50 Years After War, East Jerusalem Palestinians Confront a Life Divided

Source: The New York Times


The Dome of the Rock at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.CreditUriel Sinai for The New York Times

JERUSALEM — The smoky alternative music club in downtown West Jerusalem was packed at 12:45 a.m. when a Palestinian hip-hop duo from East Jerusalem took the stage, rapping about the occupation, the police and love, among other things, mostly in Arabic.

The crowd, familiar with some of the lyrics, chanted along with the rappers, Muzi Raps and Raed Bassam Jabid. But it was a mostly young, Hebrew-speaking Israeli crowd, including soldiers home for a weekend furlough, filling the dance floor.

Such social interaction between Jews and Palestinians is rare here. The Palestinians call it “cultural normalization,” and many frown upon it.

Even as Israelis mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the June 1967 war, the Palestinians and most of the world consider the eastern half under occupation, and the city remains deeply divided. But after five decades, dealing with Israel has become unavoidable for residents of East Jerusalem.

“It’s a totally different world, a totally different life,” Muzi Raps, whose real name is Mustafa Jaber, said of his friends in West Jerusalem, which is predominantly Jewish. Mr. Jaber, 27, lives a short walk away, in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, across the old pre-1967 armistice line, now an invisible boundary.

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