“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present” – -Rabindranath Tagor
A village born of resistance, Bab Al-Shams was established two days ago in defiance of Israeli colonial policies and restrictions on Palestinian building in the Jerusalem area.
Regardless of the outcome, the Bab Al-Shams village has instilled a hope in us that many thought was lost. Today, the village was visited by people from all over Palestine, including Al-Khalil, Lyd, Nablus, and Nazareth among others. Village residents received letters from the Palestinian community in the Diaspora, in addition to those living in refugee camps all over the Arab World, the United States, Europe and Latin America.
For this small act of defiance, Israeli Occupation Forces are on high alert. All entrances to the village were closed. Checkpoints were set up as far as Ramallah and soldiers checked buses and cars leaving Ramallah and other towns and villages. Ultimately, visitors were forced to take a detour through the mountains. Despite the many obstacles put in their place, they, along with residents, were able to enjoy an unforgettable day together.
A letter from the Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee expressed residents intent to make Bab Al-Shams a permanent village:
We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village (Gate of the Sun). We the people, without permits from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.
A few months ago the Israeli government announced its intention to build about 4000 settlement housing units in the area Israel refers to as E1. E1 block is an area of about 13 square km that falls on confiscated Palestinian land East of Jerusalem between Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which lies on occupied West Bank Palestinian land, and Jerusalem. We will not remain silent as settlement expansion and confiscation of our land continues. Therefore we hereby establish the village of Bab Alshams to proclaim our faith in direct action and popular resistance. We declare that the village will stand steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right to build on their land.
The village’s name is taken from the novel, “Bab Alshams,” by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury. The book depicts the history of Palestine through a love story between a Palestinian man, Younis, and his wife Nahila. Younis leaves his wife to join the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon while Nahila remains steadfast in what remains of their village in the Galilee. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Younis smuggles through Lebanon and back to the Galilee to meet his wife in the “Bab Alshams” cave, where she gives birth to their children. Younis returns to the resistance in Lebanon as his wife remains in Bab Al Shams.
For more information about the E1 plan and its strategic location for Israel’s plans to expand its settler colonies, go here: http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/view.php?recordID=570
In an environment of Israeli colonialism, Palestinian Authority corruption, and increasing helplessness among the Palestinian community, Bab Al-Shams is proof that the Palestinian people are steadfast in their resistance to a colonial occupation that has attempted to destroy their society for nearly seven decades.