|this protest was about closing the street where I live on Shabbat|
|Floor 21 only|
It is sad that those who come here for a week still have a lot to say. When they have been here a month, they are less free with their opinions and after six months, rarely make comment. I am sometimes asked about what life is like here. These days I usually just remark "it's complicated". Complicated because societies are multilayered, sometimes defensive and sometimes not. It's worth bearing in mind that almost all adults, men and women, have had military training, which brings an odd sense of comfort. There is no sense of beleaguerment, a sense of a society about to be attacked, but vigilance is unceasing, almost military. The school has underground bunkers. Where other schools practise fire drill, or even earthquake drill, we have in addition 'intruder drill' and air raid drill as well. The only time I ever feel less than comfortable is when travelling through East Jerusalem or the West Bank. Perhaps I imagine smouldering rage where there really is none, the inhabitants are happier with their situation than I might imagine, piles of garbage notwithstanding. Many organisations bringing culture and music here are openly pro-Palestinian, some indeed behave as if the 1967 borders have already been ceded to the PA. A beautiful choir performed 'Messiah' in St Anne's Basilica over Christmas, advertising previous concerts in Ramallah and even Gaza, and referring to their current location as 'al-Quds' rather than Jerusalem.
We witnessed the end of an era yesterday. Once the darling of the Far Right, the towering presence of Ariel Sharon departed this life yesterday after many years in a coma. He did a political about-turn, supervising the Gaza pullout in 2005, thereafter attempting to shape the political landscape in his own image. I wondered what he would have made of the consequences, the rise of Hamas, negotiations with successive and increasingly more ambitious American politicians within a society increasingly secularised and impatient for peace and safety, some might say at almost any cost.
There, now. I've said too much. After all, what do I know and why should my opinion matter more than an American or French commentator? One who has never left the familiarity of Washington or Paris, relying instead on a well-lubricated and Machiavellian propaganda of victimhood?
Or the council of St James Church in London who have erected a replica wall at a cost of several thousand pounds to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle upon which people can write messages of support or condemnation of the existence of the real thing whose protective umbrella saves lives. The Church's avowed even-handedness is tarnished in their literature by their propositional use of words like 'occupied territories'.
Now I really have said too much.