Episode 1: Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a perennial flashpoint for the broader Israel-Palestinian conflict. This spring’s tensions ratcheted up again during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, around Palestinian access to the Damascus Gate area of the Old City and the planned eviction of a group of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. It was part of a larger drive by ultra right-wing Jewish groups to displace or evict Palestinian families. The unrest led to clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al Aksa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah, and ultimately Hamas missiles launched at the city from Gaza – which set off the most recent war.  In this first of this three-part series on mixed cities, we talk to two Jerusalem activists, Nivine Sandouka, an expert in the field of program development, peacebuilding and gender, and Suf Patishi, a lawyer and activist with Standing Together, to better understand what happened in Jerusalem during the recent surge of violence, their work bringing Jewish and Palestinian activists together in the city, and what they think needs to happen next.

Nivine Sandouka is an activist aspiring to achieve social justice, peace, and gender equity. She is an expert in the field of program development, management, peace building and gender issues. Currently, she works with the German Association for Development Cooperation – AGEH. She also runs a grassroots-based initiative called ‘Judi- from me to you’ that aims to connect women together, and volunteers in several civil society organizations. To pursue her passion, she is the Executive Director of a newly established NGO called ‘Our Rights’ in Jerusalem, focusing on civic and political rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, especially women. She was identified by the USA state department in 2014 as a young leader and participated in the prestigious ‘International Visitor Leadership Program’ on the theme of conflict resolution, and right now serves as an alumni leader. Throughout her career, she developed several programs that aim to women’s empowerment and community development with international organizations such as Oxfam, and CARE International. She was also the Co-Director of IPCRI – Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives. In addition, she currently sits as a board member for ‘The Jerusalem Center for Women’ and is a member representing the civil society of the International Reference Group for the ‘World Council of Churches’. She participated in several conferences tackling the issue of women’s rights in Palestine and attended two institutes on Feminist Transformative Leadership. Nivine has an MA in democracy and Human Rights from Birzeit University and attended several courses on peace building, gender, program management, accountability, and advocacy. She was also invited as a speaker on several occasions including J Street annual conference (2017 & 2018), Accord 1325 Conference in the German Federal Foreign Office, amongst others. 

Suf Patishi has been an active member of Standing Together since its establishment and has served in its leadership for the last three years. There, he has organized efforts for the social rights of elderly people and those with disabilities, campaigned against discrimination of the Ethiopian community in Israel, and led struggles against the occupation and for equal rights of Palestinians within Israel. He trained as a lawyer in the national public defense and is now working as a parliamentary advisor for Knesset member Gaby Lasky.

This episode was produced by Dina Kraft and Yoshi Fields. Edited by Yoshi Fields. Scoring by Joel Shupack. Theme music by System Ali. Additional music from Blue Dot Sessions.