I ran into some vigorous protests today. After Israel’s Independence Day celebrations, the Palestinians wanted their say. Many of those present were the descendents of those who lost homes and land in 1948 and later. Of course, the wall and the Israeli West Bank settlements have continued this loss of land.
After allowing the protesters 40 minutes of chanting, the security forces waded in and hauled off two men — they knew who they wanted. Later, various people got shoved and beaten, including some older women, young boys, and Palestinian medics. A group of “tween” girls led the later chanting and paid the price by being chased down and thrown around. One needed bandages. One soldier was about to shoot a girl with rubber bullets at point blank until his comrades yelled at him to stop. I’m sure that most or all of these soldiers would rather not be having to do this. They have all the physical weapons on their side, but the taunts of the crowd must bite. Then again, the memory of suicide bombings and other atrocities hardly encourages gentleness.
The protest was led by women. Later, after dark, young men took to the Old City’s streets, singing in call-and-response. In the narrow streets, they roared. The crowd dispersed without trouble, but the night is not done.
Meanwhile, hundreds of busloads of sunburned tourists wander the Holy City, seeking their Gods of love among stones that have surely seen more millennia of human blood than any other rocks. Living history, indeed.
To close, here’s a Banksy from a building just behind the 8-12 ft concrete wall that separates the people of Bethlehem from Israel.