6 June 2002
June 5, 2002
Mapper's Life Mirrors Mideast Conflict
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 3:04 a.m. ET
JERUSALEM (AP) -- When Khalil Tufakji was 16, he was shot in the arm by soldiers during a protest in Jerusalem against occupation. Israel was not the occupier then and the soldiers, like the protesters, were Arabs.
It was 1966. Tufakji and his friends were demonstrating against Jordan's King Hussein -- who at the time had been ruling the Palestinians for 14 years.
``It was a Jordanian soldier who shot me,'' recalled Tufakji, now a soft-spoken 53-year-old man with a thick mustache, a deep smile and three degrees in geography.
Today, he is the chief cartographer for the Palestinian Authority, responsible for mapping a future state, redrawing the lines that have defined his life.
The 35th anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war, in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, offers the two sides an occasion to reflect on the complexities of their conflict, and the many rulers who have come and gone in the holy city.
In 1947, the West Bank was supposed to be a separate state under a U.N. partition plan that created Israel. Jerusalem was designated an international zone. Instead, the Arab states attacked Israel and were defeated. Jordan then annexed the West Bank, and Jerusalem was divided into an Arab east and Israeli west.
The Tufakjis found themselves living under Jordanian rule, just a few blocks from a very shaky, hastily drawn dividing line. Tufakji was born in 1950.
His Turkish grandfather had settled in the Wadi Joz district of Jerusalem when it was part of the Ottoman Empire. After the Turks came the British, in 1917, then the Jordanians, then the Israelis. Now Tufakji imagines a day when the family home, nestled in green, sloping hills will be in Palestine.
Tufakji grew up near the cease-fire line, yet it would be years before he would see an Israeli, and the first one would be in uniform.
``It was the summer of 1967 and school was out. I had a summer job doing construction work,'' Tufakji recalled between sips of strong Turkish coffee.
``Then we heard on the radio that Israel had attacked Egypt.'' It was Monday, June 5, 1967, the start of what Israelis came to know as the Six-Day War.
``The next day, we saw the Israelis for the first time. They came in twos, soldiers, they came right into our house. They looked around and then they left.''
The Arabs of Jerusalem were kept under curfew for about a week. ``Then, on June 16, I went down to the Old City and saw Jews praying for the first time in my life,'' Tufakji said. ``I knew they were going to be there for a very long time.''
Tufakji left home for the University of Damascus in Syria, where he studied politics and geography.
He traveled and worked abroad, coming home occasionally to visit his family. ``There was no direct occupation then. You could do whatever you wanted, go anywhere.''
Since 1993, when Israel and the Palestinians entered into peace accords that gave Palestinians limited autonomy and the hope of eventual statehood, Tufakji has worked as the mapmaker for Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. He sat at the negotiating table as the sides tried to work out a final settlement that would create two states originally envisioned by the United Nations.
But the talks fell apart in July 2000 and fighting erupted two months later. Since then, hundreds of people have been killed on both sides.
Instead of mapping his state, Tufakji now tries to keep up with the changes Israel has made on the ground -- new Jewish settlements and Israeli roads, extra checkpoints to filter out potential suicide bombers.
For Jerusalem, the past 35 years have meant stark changes.
Jerusalem had 69,000 Arabs and 198,000 Jews in 1967. Today, it has 449,000 Jews and 208,000 Arabs, according to the 2000 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem. An estimated 200,000 Jews live on the Arab side. Wadi Joz is ringed by Jewish neighborhoods built after 1967. A Hyatt Hotel protrudes above the neighborhood.
In August last year, PLO headquarters in Jerusalem was raided by Israeli police alleging its activities were in violation of agreements. They seized Tufakji's documents and computers.
Now he works out of a small stone building on the outskirts of east Jerusalem, beyond a dusty checkpoint manned by Israeli troops who are trying to keep militants from entering the city.