Pillars Fund

Black Jerusalem: Pillars in Palestine

Posted By Kashif Shaikh and Kalia Abiade  /   October 13, 2023

We are overcome by sorrow and horror over the collective loss of life this week in Palestine and Israel. The deplorable death and destruction—through Hamas’s targeted attacks, Israel’s widespread bombings, and the denial of basic human needs—are reprehensible and unjustifiable. The images of carnage are horrific, but Palestine, the villages around it, and its people are full of beauty and resilience. We witnessed this firsthand during the inaugural Black Jerusalem journey, an initiative by IMAN and Bayan Claremont. Our journey began with awe and appreciation and ended with a harrowing escape from deadly violence.

Black Jerusalem gathered travelers from Abrahamic faiths to tour the holy land through the lens of African Palestinians and Black Diaspora communities. Palestinian people graciously hosted us, sharing their family legacies, histories of struggle, and the storytelling traditions that keep their cultures and communities alive.

A group photo in front of a huge, iron A photo of a woman sitting at a table as a part of a larger group, holding a plate and serving herself Palestinian food.

A photo of a plate with a Palestinian dish featuring eggplant and pomegranateA photo of a joyful woman holding up her phone, capturing a selfie moment with a group of smiling Palestinian kids in the background.

We confronted the realities of living under military occupation, daily police brutality, mass displacement, surveillance, and collective punishment. At Pillars Fund, we are working to end systemic oppression in the United States. The parallels were unmistakable, but we were stunned by the extreme dehumanization and relentlessness.

As we traveled freely to and from Jerusalem across Palestine, it was not lost on us that many Palestinians cannot do the same. This journey has strengthened our commitment to building a just society that honors the dignity of all people, facilitates liberation and self-determination, and ensures people can tell their own stories.

A photo of Kashif Shaikh and Rami Nashashibi walking through an alleyway in PalestineA photo of a man speaking into a microphone addresses an attentive group of people, with a view of Jerusalem in the background

A photo of Rami Nashashibi engaging in a conversation, speaking to an attentive group during a dinner eventA photo of Rami Nashashibi with his family members in Palestine

We are angered by the disregard for the 2 million people trapped in Gaza without food, water, or electricity, under siege and active fire. Our deepest prayer is for an end to the bloodshed and the beginning of a lasting peace that honors the humanity of all people. A lasting resolution that ushers in a future brimming with freedom, justice, and a joyful existence for people across the holy land. A flourishing vibrant Palestinian society so that everyone—especially Palestinians—can experience its beauty.

— Kashif and Kalia, with the entire Pillars team



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