MiniActive Youth – Doing their Part to Improve the Environment

Not wanting to be outdone by the boys, recently MiniActive youth – teenage girls group – began work in the area of the Central Arab Library in Wadi Joz.

Working together to improve the garden

Working together to improve the garden

They cleared the leaved and dry grass.

First, they needed to clean up the area.

First, they needed to clean up the area.

The filled areas with sand and covered them, forming a solid base.

Building a base for????

Building a base for????

They painted tires and filled them with sand, which will be used for planters.

They never get "tired" out!

They never get “tired” out!

These girls are not only decorating, they have also had an important hand in designing the plan, together with a trained landscape designers.

Yet another example of MiniActive youth working toward a better environment in East Jerusalem!

Here’s the original Facebook post in Arabic:

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation and Natan for its continued support of MiniActive!

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Window to Mount Zion – Documenting the Dajani Cemetery

Mount Zion is home to cemeteries from almost every religious community in Jerusalem. The Dajani cemetery (which we’ve written about here and here) is the only Muslim cemetery in the area…

For more than 500 years, the Dajani family served as custodians of King David’s mausoleum in Mount Zion. Over the course of their custodianship, the family built a neighborhood in the area and buried their deceased in a cemetery around King David’s mausoleum. Members of the family often served as public officials in the city of Jerusalem, and made a significant contribution to Jerusalem’s history. Some of the family’s prominent members are buried in the Mount Zion cemetery. These members include Mr. Aref Al-Dajani, a high public official in Yemen during the reign of the Ottoman Empire who served as Jerusalem’s Mayor, and Mr. Hasan Sidqi Al-Dajani, a renowned lawyer and socio-political activist who lost his life in the mid-1930s in a politically motivated assassination.

Dajani family, at cemetery

Dajani family, at cemetery

We’re happy to announce the completion of a special project – the documenting of the graves of the Dajani cemetery. A few months ago, together with several daughters of the family, we began documenting the Dajani cemetery in Mount Zion and the results are published online in Arabic at, and in Hebrew at It’s part of a larger cemetery documentation project, of a number of these fascinating cemeteries. Here’s a link to the site:

Here’s a post from Window to Mount Zion’s Facebook page:

Many thanks to our partners in action for the success of this program.

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MiniActive – Empowering Boys as Well as Girls

Since 2012 our MiniActive project has been empowering Palestinian women – and their families and communities – throughout East Jerusalem. For the past few years we’ve also been empowering teenage girls‘ along those same principles.

And now, the boys working to improve the environment

And now, the boys working to improve the environment

Now it’s the boys’ turn.

Near the Arab Central Library

Near the Arab Central Library

In June we began 2 new groups for boys, called “Youth Power,” each group with about 10 boys, aged 10 – 14. One group is from Kafr Aqeb, and the other group comes from throughout East Jerusalem, such as: A-tur, Silwan, Beit Hanina, Issawiya, Ras el-Amud, Shuafat.

They start by cleaning the area

They start by cleaning the area

Like the girls, they’re working to improve their environment. Each group is focusing on different projects.

Not forgetting any details

Not forgetting any details

One group is working beside the Arab Central Library in Wadi Joz. The second group is also having clean-up operations in their neighborhood.

Cleaning in different parts of East Jerusalem

Cleaning in different parts of East Jerusalem

The boys are also learning English.

Learning English experientially

Learning English experientially

Much of the intensive work is taking place during the school summer vacation, but the program will continue into the year – improving the environment with their hands, studying Hebrew, and more.

Great work!

Here’s a short video of the boys in their English class:

Here’s a nice  Facebook post from the MiniActive Facebook page:

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation and the Natan Fund for their continuing support of MiniActive.



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Celebrating a Year of The Little Prince

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” goes the quote that is most often attributed to world-renowned anthropologist, Margaret Mead.

And this was said without knowing Jerusalemite activists. The only difference between Jerusalemite activists and Rottweiler dogs is that eventually,  Rottweilers ease up….

Picture with everyone

Assessing how far we’ve come

On Wednesday, July 11, the main core of Little Prince – Cleaning Up Jerusalem Together activists –  some 70 Palestinians, religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox Jews – got together for a joint meeting. It wasn’t just any joint meeting. It was to celebrate the first full year of activity of the Little Prince project, and to assess where we’ve come, and where we’re going. Many thanks to Muslala, which provided the perfect ambiance for the meeting and the work groups afterward.

Another picture with everyone

Strategizing on where we’re going

It was exciting to see all of Jerusalem’s sectors represented, from at least 10 neighborhoods. It was exciting to see the cross-sector cooperation within and between the different work groups.

Small group 1

Activists broke up into small groups according to project

The members broke up into 4 work groups: Supervision and Enforcement, Sanitation Policy and Infrastructure, R & D, and Education and Awareness-raising.

The conference belonged to the different activist groups, and even though it was a rare opportunity to meet most of the current candidates in the Jerusalem mayoral race (in alphabetical order) – Mr. Ofer Berkovitz, Rabbi Yossi Deutsch, Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Adv. Yossi Havilio, and of course Acct. Moshe Leon. The candidates were polite and according to prior agreement with them, listened to the activists, without giving “opening remarks” or talk during the main session. It showed respect for us and for them. None of them left without promising (of their own accord) to make Jerusalem a symbol of a clean city in Israel, and that it’s top priority for them. The Jerusalem activists will be there in the following months – and afterward – to make sure that this commitment is heard again and again, and is eventually translated into clear outcomes, no matter who wins the mayoral race.

small group 2

Work emphasized cross-sector cooperation when beneficial

There were a lot of points and ideas that were written in the work groups. In light of the conference a Cleanliness Platform was written, which will be signed by all the mayoral candidates. We would like to thank everyone  who showed the activist power of Jerusalem, which can be an excellent resource for the Municipality and the mayor, if they know how to work with them.

small group 3

All to clean up Jerusalem – together

It never ceases to amaze us how a process that was begun by a group of Palestinian women from East Jerusalem (see MiniActive’s ‘We won’t live in filth!‘ campaign) spread to all sectors throughout Jerusalem, leading to this tidal wave force of activism for a clean Jerusalem!

Leading up to the conference we made a short video:


Here’s the original Facebook post summarizing the conferece:

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support for developing activists in Jerusalem!

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Living Safer, Living Longer in the Palestinian Community

This past month, our Living Safer, Living Longer program, which empowers residents to take control of preventive health and safety in their homes, became fully operational in all sectors of Jerusalem society. We discussed here about the development of the project, and here about the Haredi and general Jewish sectors. Now, the project has begun in earnest in the Palestinian sector as well.

Living Safer Living Longer in Beit Hanina

Living Safer Living Longer in Beit Hanina

Here are some pictures of the program in action, where program participants are presenting the principles of the program to seniors clubs throughout East Jerusalem.

In Sur Baher

In Sur Baher

So what did our MiniActive volunteers think of the Living Safer Living Longer course itself? Here are some of the things they said:

“I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before.”

“I saw I needed to do a lot of things in my own home [and now it’s much safer].”

“The program’s gotten under my skin, and I talk about it everywhere I go.”

“I try and convince a lot of people I meet to make their homes safer, and I even go with them to buy safety aides and help them install them in their homes.”

“The meeting with the firefighter saved me from a large fire in my own home. A fire broke out while I was frying food and I knew what to do and acted in a cool headed manner.”

At the end of the course each volunteer received a demonstration kit with the program’s logo, and a training certificate (with a picture!). Each kit included a number of safety aides, such as: a smoke detector, safety plugs for electrical outlets, safety closures for cabinets (to prevent access to dangerous materials), a door stopper (to prevent doors from slamming on hands and feet), as well as checklists for preventive health tests and home safety.

Here are some more pictures from a home safety lecture:

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of the MiniActive program, and an anonymous donor for its support of Living Safer, Living Longer.
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Let’s Boast a Minute about MiniActive Youth

As the school year winds down and children and youth get ready for summer vacation, we wanted to take a minute to boast here about the astounding successes of our leading youth program, MiniActive Youth. We’ve reported about them here and here in the past, but it’s always worth an additional mention.

Working in Jebel Mukaber

MiniActive Youth at work in Jebel Mukaber

One of MiniActive Youth’s important achievements over the last year has been the transformation of a bus stop behind the A-Sala’ah School for Boys in Jebel Mukaber. This was no regular bus stop. It was and still is the main place that hundreds of school children were dropped off before school, and waited after school. Before the youth began work, it was dark and dingy, and areas next to it were filled with junk and garbage. After months of contact and follow-up, we engaged the municipality to help clean up the ad-hoc garbage dump. But the youth did most of the work.

They recently made a movie about the whole process. Enjoy! We certainly did.


Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation and other donors for their continued support of MiniActive.

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Atta’a: Broadcasting its Expertise

We’ve already noted here how Atta’a has become the #1 go-to resource for East Jerusalem Palestinians seeking information about matters having to do with the Israel Ministry of the Interior, coming up first (even before the official site) in any Arabic-language Google search for “Israel Ministry of the Interior, Jerusalem.”

Long lines outside Israel Ministry of the Interior East Jerusalem branch

Long lines outside Israel Ministry of the Interior East Jerusalem branch

Now, Atta’a is broadcasting its expertise in mainstream Arabic-language media as well. On February 17, Atta’a Director, Daud Alian, appeared in a 25-minute interview on Palestinian television, describing the situation that many Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem face when trying to deal with the Israel Ministry of the Interior. Here’s the video, from the Atta’a Facebook page:

A few weeks later, a story on the same subject appeared in the Arabic-language East Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper, the largest and most widely read Arabic-language daily newspaper in the Palestinian territories. Here’s a link to the online version of the article, and a picture of the printed version:

Article in the Al-Quds newspaper March 6, 2108

Article in the Al-Quds newspaper March 6, 2108

0202-Points of View from Jerusalem translated parts of the article into Hebrew. Here are a few selected quotes:

The Suffering of Those Needing Services from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior is Only Getting Worse

Daud Alian, Director of the Atta’a Center, which specializes in informing residents about procedures of the Ministry of the Interior, the National Insurance Institute and the Jerusalem Municipality, says that the situation at the Israel Ministry of Interior branch in Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem is tragic. He added that the tragic occurrence that happened yesterday, like every day…a long line of people waiting to get into the office, reminded him of the old Ministry of Interior branch on Nablus Road 20 years ago – only suffering and crowding.

Alian noted that the Ministry of Interior shirked its responsibility of setting appointments to complete different procedures. Instead, all appointments must be set through the ‘My Visit’ mobile app, which is not associated with the Ministry of Interior and which is only available in Hebrew and English. In addition, currently the app isn’t working and appointments cannot be made. He added that in most cases when residents try to call to make an appointment, the Ministry of Interior doesn’t answer. And if it does, they only speak in Hebrew.

Alian believes that the only way the problem can be solved is if large numbers of residents flock to the branch every day, like what happened yesterday. Only then, when the Ministry of Interior sees how bad the problem is, will something be done to relieve the situation.

And here’s 0202’s Facebook post (Hebrew):

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support of Atta’a and its vital work.

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2018-04-21T09:26:13+00:00March 20th, 2018|Attaa, Blog, Identity Groups and Conflicts, Palestinians/Arabs|

Close the Garbage Can! Campaign Gets Underway

How do you go about getting people to close the lids on the garbage cans and put them back in their place after emptying? Have breakfast, of course. So on January 4, some 40 sanitation workers, from truck drivers to shift managers to department directors, and Haredi activists from Bayit veGan, had breakfast together to discuss how to make the streets of their neighborhood, cleaner.

It was far from obvious that this meeting took place. There are many differences between these two groups – religious, ethnicity, nationality, gender, occupation, standard of living. Despite these differences, everyone present wanted to see – and work toward – a cleaner Bayit veGan.

This initiative is part of our Little Prince project, which seeks to advance a range of initiative to help make Jerusalem’s streets cleaner. The garbage can initiative was first presented at our Open Space Technology meeting that we held in May 2017, led by the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee of the Haredi neighborhood of Bayit veGan.

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

This breakfast was the culmination of a long process of discussing the extent of the problem, the root of the problem, and possible solutions to the problem. We helped the women of the committee reach the conclusion that, in order to improve the situation, it was critical to develop a relationship with all involved, and not just be seen as complainers. Thus, the breakfast idea was born.

The idea was to invite all the local sanitation workers together with their managers to learn about the garbage collection from their standpoint. The local community center, alongside the community social worker and the community center director, invited all to breakfast at the community center.

So many attended there was barely enough food

So many attended there was barely enough food

The breakfast itself was a huge success. We were prepared for 5 workers, and 25 – 30 showed up – including all the regular workers, some substitutes, the managers, and the regional manager for Bayit veGan. Everyone cleared the air in an unusually good-natured meeting – residents complained about cans having their lids opened, how the trucks block the streets, how the cans are put back in different places. The workers complained that cars parked on the sidewalks and blocked access to the cans and other issues. Each ‘side’ brainstormed about ways they can help each other make the streets of Bayit veGan cleaners again. All came away with a fantastic feeling that despite the great differences in identity – ranging from Muslim Palestinian and Ethiopian Israeli to Haredi – bridges were built that laid the groundwork for future cooperation. And ultimately, cleaner streets.

Keeping our streets clean means so many things to so many people. From construction waste to littered parks to shutting the lids on the garbage cans in the streets, and having workers put them back in their place after they’d been emptied. Brainstorming and planning together about how to advance these issues in our individual communities – that is the beauty of the Little Prince. It is an example of wonderful, uniquely contemporary Jerusalemite, cooperation. We all live in Jerusalem and want to see it cleaner – for all of us.

Here’s the post from Facebook that was published on the Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

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Eastward from Here – Training Activists in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem has aroused the curiosity and interest of many activists in and around Jerusalem. But how much do they really know about this part of the city?

On tour in East Jerusalem

On tour in East Jerusalem, with Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim

In order to raise the level of activism in East Jerusalem, we, together with the Ir Amim organization, held an 8-session workshop called, Eastward from Here. The workshop sought to teach Jewish activists – all who work or seek to work in East Jerusalem – more about what is really going on on-the-ground, in order to enable them to be more effective in their work.

There are 22 participants, from a wide range of organizations – municipally-connected such as Moriah and the Young Adults Authority, New Spirit, Yerushalmim, Hamiffal and Blue and White Human Rights.

Each meeting dealt with a different issue, from effective dialogue and effective activism to East Jerusalem communities and East Jerusalem today to the basics of cultural competency. One of the meetings was a tour around different parts of East Jerusalem, led by Ir Amim researcher, Aviv Tatarsky.

From the workshop, participants are developing 15 different initiatives designed to work in East Jerusalem. These initiatives range from joint first aid courses for Jewish and Arab youth, Arabic-language study in Palestinian businesses in East Jerusalem, joint Jewish-Arab climbing club, academic assistance to East Jerusalem pupils, and more.

 This course is part of our Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance, supported by the UJA-Federation of New York. Many thanks also to Ir Amim for their partnership. We hope to see some very effective activism taking place in East Jerusalem very soon!
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Coming Together to Take Care of the Dajani Cemetery

We wrote here about our efforts earlier this year to clean up the Dajani Cemetery on Mount Zion. We are proud of and grateful for our partnerships with the different institutions on Mount Zion, organizations and authorities that made this project possible.

Cleaning up a special grave

Cleaning up a special grave

In November, we were unfortunately called to action again in defense of this cemetery. This time after head stones had been smashed and grave sites desecrated.

Dajani Cemetery, after the damage

Dajani Cemetery, after the damage

In response, the residents of Mount Zion released a statement in three languages:

The statement of the residents of Mount Zion

The statement of the residents of Mount Zion

Recently headstones were smashed and grave sites were desecrated at the Muslim cemetery on Mount Zion, belonging to the Dajani family. The cemetery is adjacent to David’s Tomb on Mount Zion – a holy site for many people. Esteemed Jerusalemites, members of the Dajani family, are buried there.

We, the religious and civic organizations and the residents of Mount Zion, together with Dajani family are shocked and hurt by the desecration of the memory of the deceased, and by this violent act.

We call upon the police to locate the perpetrators and to bring them to justice. Moreover, we call upon the authorities to renovate the headstones and the neglected cemetery urgently, as well as to improve on-site security. We will assist in any manner possible.


Diaspora Yeshiva

Jerusalem Intercultural Center

Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Harp of David

Custody of Holy Land

Rachel and Boaz Cohen

Dormition Abbey

Jerusalem University College

Dajani Family

A few days after this was published (and picked up in the Arabic press as well), trucks from the Jerusalem Municipality came to clean the weeds and trees that had accumulated in the vandalized cemetery.

In addition, new and better security cameras were installed for the police in an attempt to prevent further damage.

Municipal workers doing the heavy cleaning

Municipal workers doing the heavy cleaning

On the following Friday, members of the Dajani family, volunteers from the Dormition Abbey and from the Tag Meir organization, helped to clean up and improve the area. Muslims, Jews and Christians worked side by side to bring the cemetery back to its former condition as much as possible.

Improving and protecting the cemetery as much as possible

Improving and protecting the cemetery as much as possible


News of this incident made the Arabic, Hebrew and English press as well.

AlQuds November 21, 2017 article

AlQuds November 21, 2017 article

Here’s the text of the article that was published in the December 22, 2017 edition of the national Ha’aretz newspaper. (Here’s the link to the article, and a .pdf of the text.)

When a Jerusalem Cemetery Is Desecrated Yet Again, Jews, Muslims and Christians Team Up to Clean It
The often-vandalized Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem’s Old City is neglected by the authorities

Shakked Auerbach, December 22, 2017

White fragments from smashed headstones were interspersed with the yellowed autumn leaves spread over the Muslim cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The graves of the Dajanis, the Palestinian family entrusted by the waqf (Muslim religious trust) with caring for the site prior to 1948, next to what is traditionally thought of as David’s Tomb, had been vandalized more than once in the past. But this time the perpetrators did not make do with scrawling graffiti – they also smashed five large headstones into smithereens.

“The Dajani family, according to their tradition, and written testimonies, protected David’s Tomb for nearly 600 years,” says Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, chairman of Tag Meir, a coalition of Jewish groups that seek to counteract hate crimes. “Unfortunately, the headstones are frequently desecrated. It happened a few weeks ago, but it’s a recurring phenomenon.”

Following the most recent act of destruction, all the groups that have a presence on Mount Zion – Jews, Muslims and Christians – banded together to denounce the vandalism and issue a statement, which called on all the relevant authorities to take responsibility for the cemetery. “Many Jerusalem dignitaries are buried in the cemetery,” the letter stated. “We, religious and civilian institutions and tenants on Mount Zion, are shocked and grieved at the desecration of the honor of the dead and at the violent act We call on the authorities to restore the headstones and the cemetery forthwith.”

Tag Meir also declared a joint cleanup day, on Friday, December 8, and launched a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the site. According to Gvaryahu, the Muslim cemetery, in addition to being a target of nationalist attacks, does not receive the same kind of publicly funded care that other Old City religious sites do.

“Because of its location, this place is very neglected and dirty, like a backyard, or a public garbage can. So we decided to go there,” says Gvaryahu. It’s not the first time that voluntary groups have undertaken to clean up the cemetery, but it requires regular maintenance.

“We hope that all the authorities will mobilize to deal with the cemetery,” says Merav Horovitz-Stein, coordinator of the “Window to Mount Zion” project run by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, which aims to heighten public interest in and activity on behalf of the site. “There are graves there of a family that safeguarded David’s Tomb. This story is part of the history of Jerusalem.”

The recent cleanup campaign was testimony to the cooperation that has existed for years between several institutions on the mount that have been attacked by nationalists and religious extremists.

Gavaryahu: “A large number of volunteers from the Dormition Abbey came, as well as Franciscan clerics and also representatives from the church at Tabgha [the Church of the Multiplication, on Lake Kinneret]. There is much symbolism in the fact that representatives from Tabgha and from the Dormition came. The Dormition was vandalized four times by the [ultranationalist] Tag Mehir group, and Tabgha was once [in June 2015], as we all remember.”

One of the volunteers in the campaign, Katharina Bloebaum, 33, from Germany, was delighted to discover her coworkers speaking Arabic, German, English and Hebrew.

“It was a good feeling to meet with so many people from different countries and to clean the cemetery together. I think it is a sign of solidarity,” said Bloebaum, who arrived in Israel a year ago to work on behalf of Jerusalem’s Church of the Redeemer, a Lutheran institution. “This way we will understand the way of life and thinking of each person. And that is very valuable.”

A spokesman for the Jerusalem Municipality stated that the owner of the Mount Zion cemetery is the Israel Land Authority, which is also responsible for its maintenance. The spokesman added that the municipality had no knowledge of any desecration of the cemetery.

The lands authority stated: “The ILA and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority are working to clean up the cemetery and improve the situation there, including dealing with the damage done recently to the headstones there. It is our hope that we will already be able to see results in the near future.”

Many thanks to all who helped. May this be the last of these types of incidents. Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their ongoing support of this program.

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