I have been living in Jerusalem for over nine months before I venture into its other half. I’ve thought about visiting East Jerusalem, but no one in my program has done so thus far. We have been warned against it. My year in Israel is approaching its close when a new friend, Gillian, suggests it. Gillian is from Montreal. She is tiny, with long ropes of hair and a brand of defiance that is at once familiar and a little daunting. Most of the time I can’t decide whether I want to follow her or argue with her.
“Let’s go into East Jerusalem,” she says to me one day. We are sitting on a bench just outside Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School, where most of our classes are held. It is a glorious day, the sky an azure-glazed ...