Ali Jidda and the Black Palestinian Community
This is Ali Jidda. In the sixties he was a fighter for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Habash’s Marxist organization. They are a much more secularist organization than the other Palestinian resistance organizations, advocating a class-based fight against “Israeli imperialism” and drawing support largely from urban and educated (often Christian) Palestinians who are wary of a Hamas theocracy. In recent years they have been marginalized, largely due to the fall of Marxism as a dominant world philosophy, and their own internal factional divisions.
In 1968 he put a bomb on Jaffa road in Jerusalem, injuring 9 Israelis. He spent 17 years in prison, and is now semi-paralyzed on his right side. Until recently he gave “alternative tours” of Jerusalem and the West Bank, showing left-leaning tourists and activists sights and spots of the city that bear the mark of the occupation, or played a role in the loss of Palestinian rights to the city. He is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, and German, and gives talks in all of the above.
Outside one of the entrances to the Temple Mount there is a compound of apartments, all shared by members of the black Palestinian community. Their history is very interesting, going back to Chad, and a Muslim tribe there called al-Salamat. They came to Jerusalem under the Ottomans and were employed as guardians of the Temple Mount.
I highly recommend reading this report by Dr Susan Beckerleg on the history of the African community in Palestine.
Photos by Rachael Strecher.