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DannyWhatmough.com
11th November, 2012

My grandparents (both sadly no longer with us) spent a few years in Jerusalem at the end of the Second World War – a pivotal and challenging time in the history of this region.

Grandpa worked on the staff of the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and Granny worked at the school that was attached to St Georges’ Cathedral, teaching German.

On a recent trip to Jerusalem, I retraced some of their steps using a short memoir that I have, written by my Granny, documenting some of her experiences.

They were newly married when they ventured out to the Middle East. My Granny worked in the code and cipher centre at Bletchley Park during the war and so she had to join my Grandpa 18 months after he had started. She talks about waiting to get one of first crossings from Liverpool to Port Said after D-Day.

She then talks about having to take a train journey from Port Said to Jerusalem and being ordered to keep the windows closed in case thieves tried to jump in. From her description, I think Jerusalem has changed somewhat:

“Jerusalem in the 1940s possessed not a single high-rise structure, so it looked very different from the city of today. My first, and abiding, impression was of a place of dazzling white stone. There was a quality of light – vibrant, brilliant – that heightened this impression. There were still large unbuilt-up areas of olive groves and undeveloped waste ground all over the city, giving a feeling of spaciousness.”

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continue reading: Retracing steps in Jerusalem...

10th November, 2012

Set in a valley nestled between the hills, Nablus is a sprawling city that, despite the economic woes currently ravaging the West Bank, is home to a whole load of new construction work.

Nablus

But the hidden gem of this city is the old quarter – only a 5 minute walk from the Project Hope house.

Here, the wide streets suddenly shrink into a maze of winding alleys and a buzzing patchwork of little markets and shops.

It really is a feast for all the senses. The sounds of market sellers touting their wares, the cramped chickens squawking at the egg stalls, the children running around while their mothers buy them new clothes.

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continue reading: The sights and sounds of Nablus old city...

9th November, 2012

Sitting in a small cave on a hill a few kilometres outside Bethlehem, Amal Nassar explains the ethos of the Tent of Nations – “when the settlers destroy a few of our olive trees, we get out there the next day and plant twice as many”.

The Nassars see this as their unique form of peaceful protest.

The Tent of Nations is both a farm and a social project. As well as growing olives and grapes, it runs camps for local children from Bethlehem and the surrounding areas, bringing artists and educationalists from across the world.

Tent of Nations

Settlements

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continue reading: The Tent of Nations...

8th November, 2012

“They came with dogs and guns, every Saturday at night. They beat men in front of their children. One Saturday they said they didn’t want to see anyone here next Saturday, and that we should move to Aqraba. The whole village left that week.” – Rashid Murrar, Mayor of Yanoun

Before 1996, the little Palestinian farming village of Yanoun lived in relative peace. Sixteen years later and it has become a symbol of all that is rotten in the West Bank. A visit here illustrates the harsh realities of living with settlers.

Yanoun lies about 15 kilometres south east of Nablus. It also lies 12 kilometres away from one of the biggest Israeli settlements in this area.

Yanoun

Upper Yanoun

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continue reading: Yanoun and the settlers...

7th November, 2012

How to tell the story of Hebron?

Meet Ayesha. She’s eight and lives in Hebron – the largest city in the West Bank.

Hebron

Ayesha

This is the view from Ayesha’s front door in the centre of Hebron. It looks innocent enough, but what you don’t know is that the people living in the houses that sit just a few metres away are Israeli settlers.

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continue reading: Hebron through Ayesha’s eyes...