Visit Jerusalem for a city tour and you will likely get lost in the alleys, the narrow paths, the winding, sometimes winding through alleys that have been occupied by squatters. For decades, squatters have been hiding in places without walls — bathrooms, basements, closets, under mattresses. Rent is low and housing in the city is overcrowded and unaffordable, and some believe they’re being kicked out for economic reasons, not for the lives they’re keeping under their arms. “That place needs garbage,” one young man explained. “It has no heat and no hot water. You have to dig up.”
For decades, it has been hard to find the weed that Jerusalem has consumed. And while the marijuana smoking is relatively mild, there’s never been any official pot cultivation in the city, or much of anything but a small clandestine operation. The reason: Pot is illegal. Jerusalem has strict regulations about what can and cannot be grown — only certain types of plants are allowed — and they’re enforced. As a result, the few farmers who are growing pot have come to terrorize and intimidate any who try to develop a legitimate commercial plant to make money and help fuel an income. It’s not as draconian as it sounds — unlike America’s prohibition on marijuana, cultivation is not a felony in Israel, but can be taken away.
The border of Jerusalem is the most heavily militarized part of the disputed city. While there is no civil lawlessness there, there’s a lack of a “normalcy” and no one seems to control it. Public transportation is limited; goods are only allowed through checkpoints controlled by various Israeli and Palestinian security forces. Israel has expanded the wall through the West Bank, increasing the security on the Israel side. That wall is to keep terrorists from shooting at Israelis, but in the meantime, the wall is dividing families and cuts off the West Bank from the United States.