I came on vacation to see Israel and parts of the West Bank, treading the path of hundreds of thousands before me through scenery, history and religious sites, which I did. On the way I made many friends, one of which is the receptionist, Elias, who, out of the blue invited me to his home in the Old City of Jerusalem as he wanted to explain his situation as a Christian Palestinian. It was not only a visit a normal tourist would never do, but an honour for me to be asked by Elias.
Once Elias’s shift had finished on the day of my previous post, we walked down the Mount of Olives and in through the Old City of Jerusalem to his home.
He explained that his family of six, mother, father and 4 sons of working age lived in the same small top floor apartment in the Christian Quarter for well over 33 years (the age of Elias). There is basically a tiny bathroom, kitchen and living room where 4 sleep (used to be 6), eat off a coffee table, a TV and internet desk. Although cramped, his mother kept the apartment spotless.
I was the second visitor outside the family who had visited their home in 3 years. What an honour !
Only 2 sons were working in hotels, one of which has a physics degree but will never be employed in that field because he is Palestinian.
A 3rd son was working as a bus driver and lost his job because the working conditions were unsuitable for him.
The rent is very high, 3/4 of Elias’s salary. The prices of every thing here as shot up. Although things are difficult, their main worry is if one of the 2 brothers can’t work for some reason.
None of the 4 sons have a wife on the horizon, so they all live at home with mum and dad in really cramped conditions.
The Israeli government is in total control of their lives, documentation etc. The family is not free to do what most of us westerners can do. They support their brother & sister Palestinians in the prison of Gaza.
The mother was very generous in feeding me. A coffee went down well. The family is basically surviving on a day to day basis, not knowing what future will be forced upon them. Thank you Elias and family for the memorable visit. I was honoured !
Ralph xox ❤