East Jerusalem: 6 Voices - Sara Benninga
27, a Jewish-Israeli activist in the Sheikh Jarrah solidarity movement
What’s the story?
Sara is one of the leaders of the joint nonviolent movement of Israelis, Palestinians, and international activists protesting the settlement enterprise in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Raised in a traditional family living in West Jerusalem, Sara attended a religious primary school. She now studies and teaches fine arts, and is writing a Ph.D on the subject.
What is Sara fighting for?
Settlers have taken over several family homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, among them part of Muna and Muhammad al-Qurd’s home. Many find this a particularly glaring injustice, as these families are descendants of Palestinians who became refugees following the 1948 war, and were settled in the neighborhood by the Jordanian government. The settlers’ claims to ownership of parcels of land there date back to Ottoman times, and were accepted by the Israeli Supreme court. However, Palestinian claims to ownership of land inside Israel before 1948 are not feasible under Israeli law. The solidarity movement has managed to raise public awareness of the injustice and aims to reinstate the families in their homes.
In this innovative project, B’Tselem and the Guardian gave six Palestinians and Israelis cameras to create video diaries of their lives in occupied East Jerusalem, under the shadow of the settlement enterprise. The diaries offer a glimpse into the impact of the volatile reality on their lives. This is one aspect of B’Tselem’s video project, in which the organization has given some 200 Palestinian families cameras to document violations of their rights.