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Photo: Musa al-Shaer

'Odette', Beit Hanina, June 17:

This recording begins with a visit to a building near a major Israeli checkpoint at Beit Hanina, on the border between Jerusalem Municipality and the West Bank, on the road to Ramallah. Several Palestinian NGOs work out here. There's one building filled with women's NGOs. Probably for self-protection there are no signs on the buildings, which are walk-up. It takes me some time and questioning to find the office where 'Odette' works.

'Odette' is an NGO employee who is ready to record but asks me not to give her real name since she's on the list of those whom the Israel authorities are trying to expel from Jerusalem. Her situation is the reverse of Umm Islam's in 'Sumood camp'. Her husband has a Jerusalem ID card (blue), she does not. Though they are married and have two children, according to Israeli law Odette is not entitled to live in Jerusalem since she was born in a West Bank village.

Odette gives a clear account of the pressures forcing men from villages in the Northern West Bank to emigrate to the Gulf, where she grew up, and the terrible state of anxiety she and her husband live in because her lack of a Jerusalem ID card. Of course they applied for one, under the provision called 'lemm shaml' (family reunification), but the authorities refused to give her even a temporary ID. This was a problem she had no idea would arise when she first married a man living in Jerusalem. It's by no means an isolated case but a situation that threatens hundreds of Palestinian residents of


'Odette' speaks:
"I am from the village of Zubabda near Jenin. I was born on September 11, 1973. I was the second daughter of two parents - a father who learned industrial crafts in the Salesian school, in Jerusalem or Bethlehem, and my mother who took the 'towjihi' exam. I spent my early childhood in Zubabda, but after that we had to leave for Dubai. My father and mother are educated, my father didn't want to live as a farmer all his life. He wanted to seek for a better life for himself and his children. And because we built, we needed more money, so we left for Dubai. I spent all my life in Dubai. Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates. I studied there, and lived there all my childhood, until I grew older. For a while I worked in Dubai emirate. One year when we came here on vacation, I got engaged to my cousin. He's my cousin, but they married me to him because they [his family] have the blue card, the card of Jerusalem. We have the card of the West Bank. We wanted to preserve our identity card, so we came every third year to renew it. We had to, because if we were later than that they would have taken the card away from us. Of course I didn't cut myself off from my family and my village. I used to come and visit for a month or two. I came as a visitor, everything was unreal to me. I didn't understand anything about the situation. I was a child at the beginning, I wanted to play, it was just a chance to play. So when I came and got engaged to my cousin, it never occurred to me that he's Jerusalem and I'm the Bank..."

[Umm Islam] [Hajji Aisha Alwayn Aqel ]


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