JERUSALEM — This week marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, which in Israel and the history books is often referred to as the Six-Day War and which Palestinians have come to call “al Naksa,” or “The Setback.”

 

The war — and the lines of dispute drawn in its aftermath — remain at the heart of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to this day, and in many ways still provide the contours of the long-stalled peace process. The conflict broke out on June 5, 1967 and was fought between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. As a main result of this war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their villages and towns setting the stage for decades of intractable conflict that still affect the current lives and the future generations of both Palestinians and Israelis. The war led to the Israeli capture of the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.

 

The memory of this war is a dividing line. And reflections on this anniversary are conceived differently by Palestinians and Israelis — loss versus winning; tragedy versus victory; and the insecurity of displacement versus the security of conquest. To explore these different perspectives, I set out with photojournalist Heidi Levine on the campus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I am studying journalism and communications. The campus sits atop Mount Scopus and looks out over Arab and Jewish neighborhoods and has a student body that includes both Arabs and Jews.

 

On campus, we asked six young people, three Israelis and three Palestinians, about how the legacy of the war has affected them and how they see and live the results of that war. The interviews revealed the two different faces of the same coin, the different understanding and the different realities of both Israelis and Palestinians, a matter that clarifies the causes of the conflict. The interviewees were between 22 and 29 years old, a generation of youth who didn’t witness the war but whose lives are shaped by its outcome. Here is what six of my fellow students had to say:

 

Alon Levi

Alon Levi, 26, is an Israeli originally from Rishon LeZion. He studies political science and communications at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Alon Levi, 26, is an Israeli originally from Rishon LeZion. He studies political science and communications at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Name: Alon Levi
Background: Israeli
Age: 26
From: Rishon LeZion
Lives In: Rishon LeZion
Studies: political science and communication

 

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is approaching. What does this anniversary mean to you?

 

It means so many things. Mostly on the political side it means that now we as Jewish people are no longer afraid that we can be exterminated like we did before the Six-Day War, but it also means that there is a large population of Palestinians that are suffering under Israeli occupation that I wish could end for the benefit of both sides.

 

Do the boundaries drawn during the 1967 war affect your daily life? If so, how?

 

I can go to the Western Wall freely and go to the Hebron, I went to there freely, where Jews couldn’t go there for hundreds of years, to the religious places, sites. But day-to-day, I don’t feel like any … no effects on my daily life from the boundaries.

 

The 1967 line provides the boundaries of a proposed Palestinian state. Do you believe in a two-state solution? Do you think it will happen?

 

I do believe in a two-state solution, but I have to say that I think that as well as Arabs live in Israel and their Israeli citizens with equal rights, I think that Jews could, if they want to, live in the future Palestinian state with also equal rights. I do see it happening in the future. I hope it will happen and that’s the only way we can live side by side.

 

Afnan Abassi

Afnan Abassi, 22, is a Palestinian living in Jerusalem. She is originally from Beit Safafa. She studies education and Italian language at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Afnan Abassi, 22, is a Palestinian living in Jerusalem. She studies education and Italian language at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Name: Afnan Abassi
Background: Palestinian
Age: 22
From: Beit Safafa
Lives In: Jerusalem
Studies: education and Italian language

 

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is approaching. What does this anniversary mean to you?

 

I have a lot of mixed emotions, like when I am remembering the kicking out of the Palestinian people from all their lands and to see my friends and family who have been kicked out, its giving me a mixed emotion and especially Beit Safafa has been divided to two. It has been some of the lands with Israeli country and some of the other with the Palestinian country. Which means some of them have the citizen of Israel and the other have the citizen of Palestinian authority with no relevant things like Jordanian passport and an Israeli ID number.

 

Do the boundaries drawn during the 1967 war affect your daily life? If so, how?

 

As a musician practicing in a Palestinian orchestra of Edward Said with a lot of other Palestinian musicians who can’t enter to Jerusalem to do a simple thing like a concert or to play music together, I have been affected from that. Like every time we have a concert or an exam we need to ask for permission for them to enter to us and it’s like separating us from other habits of our lives. When there is a traffic in there [Qalandia checkpoint] you will stay like two hours before the rehearsal and almost and always the Jerusalem Branch who is the one will be later to the rehearsal. Like we arrived always 30 minutes late even when we went out one hour and a half before.

 

The 1967 line provides the boundaries of a proposed Palestinian state. Do you believe in a two-state solution? Do you think it will happen?

 

I don’t have really an answer, a real answer for that. I have a mixed emotion. I believe like if the Palestinian state has been coming up or they had the peace to come as a state it would be great for them as a people who have been living under an occupation life, like they don’t live as a real life. They always have to take a permission to go to their hospitals and to do their work. If we had one state it wouldn’t be fair for all of us. I believe that everyone on this Earth and this life need to take the present to live their life like to live a real life as a human person. No matter to me if he is a Jewish or an Israeli or a Palestinian. To live as a human and to not be humiliated.

 

Avihai Golian

Avihai Golian, 23, is an Israeli living in Mevaseret Zion. He studies communcation and political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Avihai Golian, 23, is an Israeli living in Mevaseret Zion. He studies communcation and political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Name: Avihai Golian
Background: Israeli
Age: 22
From: Mevaseret Zion
Lives In: Mevaseret Zion
Studies: communication and political science

 

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is approaching. What does this anniversary mean to you?

 

Jewish can be in the holy places in Jerusalem, and some part in the West Bank like Hebron. They can express their faith and religion after 2,000 years without a land.

 

Do the boundaries drawn during the 1967 war affect your daily life? If so, how?

 

On one hand it’s positive because I can express my feeling and my religion to the holy places in Jerusalem and in the West Bank. This is the most important site to my religion, Jewish came here because this site, and in ’67 it’s free to the Jewish. On the other hand, it’s negative because the friction with the Muslim people that live here because everyone wants to rule here. It’s like a girl that everybody wants her.

 

The 1967 line provides the boundaries of a proposed Palestinian state. Do you believe in a two-state solution? Do you think it will happen?

 

I think we need to look for a more creative solution, either two states or one-state solution for the people that live here. Because if there is a two-state solution many terrorist organizations such as Jihad or ISIS will can have a free access to this land and the fight will become worse. It will be like Gaza but 100 times worse. From the other hand a one state solution is also a big problem because it isn’t a real solution to the people who live here, the Arabs and the Jewish. Maybe we need to have autonomy to certain places that’s based on economic and social rights. I think this is the best solution to this big problem.

 

Mustafa Shakla

Mustafa Shakla, 25, is an Palestinian studying Accounting and Art History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem . He lives in Ein Rafa, a village just west of Jerusalem. (Photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Mustafa Shakla, 25, is an Palestinian studying accounting and art history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem . He lives in Ein Rafa, a village just west of Jerusalem. (Photo by Heidi Levine/GroundTruth)

Name: Mustafa Shakla
Background: Palestinian
Age: 25
From: Ein Rafa
Lives In: Ein Rafa
Studies: accounting and art history

 

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is approaching. What does this anniversary mean to you?

 

The Six-Day War is a memory where we can remember when Jerusalem was occupied by the Israelis and in that day they split … they put borders between the Palestinians, between families, between other Palestinians and Jerusalem so they can’t reach it. That was very hard to many people it made the road to Jerusalem, very hard although it was so close. I have my aunt who lives in al-Eizariya and she has a son who lives in Jerusalem. In order to meet, she needs a pass permit, and in order to meet also they need to go in buses or car for two or three hours instead of 10 minutes from al-Eizariya to Jerusalem, which separates between them only the wall.
Even though it’s so close, al-Eizariya is considered inside Jerusalem, not outside of it. And despite that I can’t go there whenever I want.
It’s very hard. I don’t go because of the situation, because of the wall. I also don’t visit also my grandfather in Ramallah because of the wall, because if I go there it will take me hours to reach him, psychologically I won’t be doing well. So I tend to not go there most of the time. Yes, that put a lot between us.
Also not just my grandfather, I have an uncle there and an aunt also in Ramallah, all they can’t come. For example if we need to make a wedding, for my brothers for example, they made their weddings in Ramallah so that my family, my father’s family could come. We can’t make a wedding in Jerusalem for example, because no one would come from our family, and that would also make it also harder for us to go to Ramallah and make a wedding there far from our home — not far but far because of the wall and the borders.

 

Do the boundaries drawn during the 1967 war affect your daily life? If so, how?

 

It affected my daily life. I now can go to Jerusalem. I love Jerusalem more than I ever imagined that I will be, but yes I love going there. If the borders were still there it would be harder for me to go there to discover Jerusalem more and more. It can make it harder for me to use what I study in the real life, in the history of arts, in the buildings, in the churches, in everything. It will make it also harder for me to practice my religion and go there whenever I want.

 

The 1967 line provides the boundaries of a proposed Palestinian state. Do you believe in a two-state solution? Do you think it will happen?

 

A two-state solution is never an option. People usually use that because it’s the only option they can imagine because for a long time they wanted to, as we say, to free Palestine. Nowadays they see that as an impossible goal, so they are going for another goal, a less thing that is the boundaries in for the ’67 state, 1967 state. That is also a political play, they make it harder for you to do what you want so that you can ask for less. It’s just a game and I think it is impossible to do that because people, Palestinians, live also in the inside and outside of the borders of the ‘67 so it will be harder for them to communicate. For example, people who live in Ramallah wont be able to go to Jaffa, for example, to the sea. Why is that? Maybe people who are from Jaffa originally and want to go there, do they need a pass permit or do they have to cross borders in order to go there? It used to be one state, why split it? Why occupy it?
It’s like taking my apple and offering me a bite and I should thank you for it. Why should I do that? It’s my country. Why do you want to give me only part of it and tell me go live there? Why not make me go where I want, live wherever I want? Why only put me in like a big prison and tell me go live there? The two-state solution is not possible nowadays because we don’t have a political plan, an economic plan, for the Palestinians. We don’t have resources. We don’t have anything we can use in order to build a state. We don’t have an airport. We don’t have a stable army. We don’t have anything, so its not possible. We need to live together in a one big country, not two.

 

Yasmin Azhari

Yasmin Azhari is a 23 years old Israeli who lives and attends university in Jerusalem. She studies international relations and communications at Hebrew University.

Yasmin Azhari is a 23 years old Israeli who lives and attends university in Jerusalem. She studies international relations and communications at Hebrew University.

Name: Yasmin Azhari
Background: Israeli
Age: 23
From: Galilee
Lives In: Jerusalem
Studies: international relations and communications

 

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is approaching. What does this anniversary mean to you?

 

I thought how the situation right now is kind of a given to me because I grew up in the current situation and it’s pretty sad to think that this conflict has been going on for so long and, yeah, it’s still going. And it’s pretty sad.

 

Do the boundaries drawn during the 1967 war affect your daily life? If so, how?

 

Well now I live in Jerusalem so obviously it does affect me. I have access to the holy Western Wall and I can walk around the city. I feel comfortable in the city, yeah. I cant really imagine a different situation right now. I feel like knowing this is in Israeli control, like some areas in the city, I feel like I can walk there. I can … I don’t feel … I feel more safe. Though in the Judea and Samaria, my brother lives there and I do not feel safe going to visit him, even though it is occupied. I don’t know if I would have felt safer if it was Palestinian, so I’m not sure. Just, you know, you’re more alert when you drive. Actually their neighbors, they had a son killed when he was driving home from a basketball training, and I know that my niece and my nephew are there and I’m really scared. But it’s his choice, his life.

 

The 1967 line provides the boundaries of a proposed Palestinian state. Do you believe in a two-state solution? Do you think it will happen?

 

I’m not sure about the two-state solution. I am kind of pessimistic about the whole situation. I feel like that there are people from both sides that have motives to keep this conflict going and sadly I don’t see any change in the next few years. I am thinking about it a lot. I keep like … every time I get into it, I’m trying to think of solutions and I honestly don’t know.

 

Ahmed Hasna

Ahmed Hasna,29, at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem on May 7,2017. Ahmed is a Palestinian Muslim from Jerusalem that is studying International Relations and Business Administration at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Photo by Heidi Levine for The GroundTruth Project).

Ahmed Hasna,29, at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem on May 7,2017. Ahmed is a Palestinian Muslim from Jerusalem that is studying international relations and business administration at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Photo by Heidi Levine for The GroundTruth Project).

Name: Ahmed Hasna
Background: Palestinian
Age: 29
From: Jerusalem
Lives In: Jerusalem
Studies: international relations and business administration

 

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is approaching. What does this anniversary mean to you?

 

I am only 29 years old. I haven’t lived that era and I think I can recall from what my parents who, as children, lived that time and my grandparents, who lived that time with their families and having children during that time of war, I can easily say it wasn’t a pleasant or an easy memory for them to recall. It did change a lot. It did actually change things in Jerusalem, my city, where I live, in terms of demographics, in terms of geography, also division of the city. It also probably changed a lot in term of identity to those who live — Palestinians who live — in east Jerusalem. Many things could be said about the effects of the Six-Day War. We can say that we are still living the repercussions of this war till this day, and many things that we believe that are not … that might seem not connected to it are, in fact, a direct descendent of this war and its consequences.

 

Do the boundaries drawn during the 1967 war affect your daily life? If so, how?

 

Most notably, the change in boundaries, if we shall say, is closely linked with the enclavement of the Jerusalemite community within the state of Israel. There is a certain disconnection between the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and their peers and people inside the West Bank. We can see that there have been a lot of divisions — perhaps not in my family — but in many families who half of the family, or the mother or the father, come from the West Bank. Due to the legal practices and all the legal matter about unifying families from the West Bank — Palestinian families from the West Bank — with Palestinian families in Jerusalem … many families were forced to either move to this side, to the West Bank. Or some, actually some of them had to be divorced. That kind of left in a very serious imprint on the Palestinian community. Moreover, it did change something in the minds … I mean as a youngster I remember, you know you’re like 15,16 you’re meetings girls and getting to know them. And then you meet a girl and you’re like, “Where are you from?” “I’m from Ramallah,” and you’re like, ‘Oh, OK.’ And you just realize it’s going to be a hell of a life if you guys end up married. It’s not gonna be an easy life for you. It’s kind of a way where you do a form of auto-censorship of who you want to be with. You start making these distinctions and I think, although it might sound normal to people, I think it’s obnoxiously abnormal when you have to distinguish and discriminate in your own mind towards the same people. You categorize, ‘Oh I’m a Palestinian from Jerusalem, He’s a Palestinian from the north.’ Funny story, you’ve got people who, when you go — if you want to get married in an Arab society, the guy approaches the bride’s father and he talks to him and he has to agree to certain sets of conditions, let’s say. And I heard that some people are giving conditions saying that, “Oh you can’t live in Area C. It’s too dangerous to live there so if you want to marry my daughter you have to find a house in Ramallah, say, or somewhere else,” and that is absurd in every fashion. If you want to buy a house in East Jerusalem, you’re gonna be, it’s gonna put you back at least a million and a half dollars. That’s a lot of money for a small flat, for a 70-square-meter flat in a place where also you don’t get proper services. You don’t get municipal services. The trash will eventually accumulate in your street at least twice a week and nobody would even pick it up. All Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem, especially East Jerusalem, are surrounded by the Israeli settlements — such as the French Hill, Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov, Ramot — so all the lands of these villages have been surrounded and being eaten up by these settlements. So we are very confined by space and we are also confined bureaucratically and legally.

 

The 1967 line provides the boundaries of a proposed Palestinian state. Do you believe in a two-state solution? Do you think it will happen?

 

I think its too late for that. I think it is, as Stephen Walt — one of the leading scholars in international relations and political science — states, it’s a unicorn. It’s a myth. Nobody will ever believe in a two-state solution now. I might not share his pessimism but I can see the grains of truth and the logic behind his argument. Ever since the 1967 war there has been a lot of change on the Palestinian scene and also the Israeli scene. There has been, we’ve seen more extremism, more violence towards the cause from the Palestinian side. Same from the Israeli, if not through the army or the Israeli forces, but through a messianic message towards occupying and inhabiting, as they call them, Judea and Shomron which is the West Bank and we’ve seen the state actively supporting these endeavors. In essence, if the land is eaten up by settlements, then I don’t think we have much left for a Palestinian state. Moreover, the settlements are strategically located in a fashion where it makes it almost impossible to connect the Palestinian cities together. So, if a Palestinian state needs to be, you know, is going to be you know called and actually created, this issue should be resolved thriftily and I don’t think there is a resolution for it. I don’t think it’s easy. So, do I believe in a two-state solution? I think it is a solution that each nation wants, let’s put it this way.

More from this Project
  • danehrlich

    The two state solution should be Israel and Jordan. The facts are: Israel has one of the fastest growing populations in the region. It has made the cost of living very high and land for homes limited…the new West Bank settlements are there mainly to house a booming Jewish population.

    Jordan, on the other hand, has a land area several times larger than Israel, yet with a smaller population, a population mainly of Palestinian Arabs, being ruled by the now minority Hashemite tribe. Jordan’s royal family has long been favorably disposed to a Jewish homeland…this goes back to 1917…see Faisal-Weismann Pact….It stands to reason if there ever is t be a Palestinian state Jordan, as an Arab nation at peace with Israel, will have to be involved as the center of such a state.

More from this Project