28.06.18 | Jerusalem, Wadi Joz | Nur Amro with his children in their partially demolished home

Nur Amro and the Bulldozers

Nur Amro’s school lies at the foot of a stairs, out of sight from the road above. You would only know it is there by the sound of laughing and shrieking children, or because Nur himself told you it was there. And Nur tells a lot of people. The fundraising never stops for a school denied state investment. Nur walks smoothly down the concrete steps leading into the yard, making a mockery of my instinctive thoughts of helping him. Nur is blind and navigates his world with confidence and dignity. He fights for his students to do the same. He established this school with a mission to provide blind, and otherwise marginalized children, with the education he was denied as a child. 150 children, the max occupancy of the building, study at the Siraj Al-Quds school in Wadi Joz. Four of Nur’s classrooms are made out of metal and wood: “We need to be able to take them apart within 30 minutes.” Building permits are nearly impossible to obtain in East Jerusalem, and the school cannot afford the cost and disruption of an Israeli demolition. Running such a school without any state support is difficult, but Nur has not been defeated yet; “We always try to do miracles here.” Aside from the physical disabilities common among his pupils, about 80% suffer psychological problems due to demolitions, jailing of family members, night raids, and other ordeals of the occupation. And Nur understands: The family was asleep when the soldiers came, “banging violently on the doors.” Nur lives with his wife and three children. They said they would demolish a wall, but when he walked outside to speak to the officer, they began to demolish the entire house instead. “They deceived us. We stood in front of the bulldozers and hindered the demolition. Part of the house was saved. We never expected such a thing. We were not ready; no court order, no decision, nothing.” Israel has plans for a Natural Park ringing the walls of the Old City, and the 4,000 Palestinians living there, including Nur, are in the way. “We are living in a state of instability. We are living in constant anxiety. My children are asking where they will go if the house is demolished, and I don’t have an answer for them.”