Abu Dis with dome1

the 63 bus circles round the hills of Jerusalem and down the valleys of Jerusalem, along geometry-defying escarpments, through gold sands and red rocks, screening walls of death on its windows, shunting ridge to ridge of a desert conurbation, to a township divided from itself

the wall that guillotines Abu Dis is made up of thin tall rectangular slabs of concrete, each with a cyclops eye at the top, blind spyholes surveying nihilism, colourless but for an international babel of graffiti, a blue Che, an Irish tricolour

the wall is elephantine in its greyness and magnitude, serpentine in its curving constriction of the land

the blue Che says it all, and across the road from his messianically sad visage is a grassless football pitch, wildly nettled and playerless, its surface made of sun-dried mudballs; alongside Che, also blue, a ‘LET ME SEE THE SEA’ and two jellyfish trailing ribbons, as if to sting the barricade

burning abu dis2

black earth, black wall, flaming tyres and sledgehammers, an atmosphere of tear-gas

shadows of human beings scale illegal heights

the area is acquainted with death, beyond the black wall is Al-Eizariya, (i.e. the place of Lazarus), better known as Bethany, cave of the stench

Palestinian Parliament Abu Dis3

‘simultaneously a construction site and ruin’

the would-have-been Palestinian Parliament
would-have-been in Abu Dis,
would-have-been where an independent Palestine
would-have-been governed from,
would-have-been centrally situated
in this East Jerusalem idyll,
would-have-been emblazoned
with the Eagle of Saladin,
would-have-been would-have-been
but isn’t,
conditionally perfect,
built to be dis-used

instead there is a wall dividing farmers from their farmlands, students from their university, neighbours from their neighbours, Jerusalemites from their Jerusalem

Abu Dis ghetto4

Ahmed offers me a fist, his hand oily from garage work, and shows me to the bus-stop beyond the lifeless campus

at Abu Dis checkpoint, Arab passengers show A4 permits and I.D.s, I show my passport, the bus enters a tunnel and ascends to Mount Scopus, it’s winter, the sun is gone

Niall McDevitt



(Photos courtesy of Electronic Intifada and DAAR)

N.B. Abu Dis is twinned with Camden Town. The website for the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) can be found here: http://www.camdenabudis.net

DAAR: http://www.decolonizing.ps/site/about/

About Niall McDevitt

Niall McDevitt > poet > author of b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010) and Porterloo (International Times, 2012) > urban explorer > radical pedestrian who leads Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud /Yeats walks, among others.
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