Not only did Israel steal my grandfather’s land; it has also stolen Jerusalem from me. Growing up in the city, I was an undocumented resident in Israel’s eyes despite the fact that my mother’s family has lived there for generations. My mom was born and raised a mere 10-minute walk from my childhood home, but my father’s family is from Tulkarem, a small city in the West Bank. And so my dad, my siblings, and I have West Bank IDs while my mom, a Jerusalemite, has a Jerusalem ID. That meant that while my mother had a right to live in Jerusalem, the rest of us were only guests in our own home, living there because we renewed travel permits that technically allowed us only entry into Jerusalem, not a permanent stay. (Israel has been trying to revoke Jerusalem IDs from Palestinians like my mom for decades.)
Because I still have a West Bank ID, as an adult I can never live in Jerusalem again despite it being my hometown. Under Israeli law, West Bankers aren’t allowed to drive or work in Jerusalem unless they have special permits, which are very rare and hard to get. They are also not allowed to buy or rent a home. But those rules do not apply to Jewish people, be they from Israel or anywhere else in the world. So long as someone can prove their Jewish ancestry, Israel will help them settle in Jerusalem and offer them full rights and privileges — ones that I, an indigenous Palestinian, can never get for the sole reason of my identity.