It took me forever to get home on Monday night from bellydance class. What normally would be a 20 minute bus ride from Talpiot to Ramban took close to two hours. First, I got on the bus and just a few minutes later a police car pulled the bus over. The nag, driver, was driving without headlights. Everyone had to get off of the bus and wait for another. About 10 minutes later we boarded another bus. But instead of going the normal route we were rerouted up through Yaffo Road about 10 blocks away from where I normally would get off. The reason? A very peaceful but large rally at the end of my street.
Yesterday’s Jerusalem Post reported that on the eve of the start of the Annapolis conference, Monday night, “thousands rally in Jerusalem against Israeli-Palestinian talks”. I believe the Post. I had to plow my way through the crowd, mostly teens and young adults, to get home. There were large banners, music, speakers, and cheering from the crowd. The prominent issue that they were demonstrating against is the dividing of Jerusalem.
And let me say also that people aren’t too crazy about Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The paper quoted several speakers saying that, all of his promises will “explode in our faces”, or that he is “toasting the enemy” in Annapolis. The Western Wall (Kotel or wailing wall) also had a demonstration in which 15,000 prayed for Annapolis to fail on any territorial withdrawal.
The West Bank was not without its share of protests and demonstrations either. Today’s Haaretz, the more liberal newspaper in Israel, reported that one man was killed in Hebron at an anti-Annapolis rally, and that dozens of people were wounded when the police opened fire. There was a picture of police officers deployed on the streets of Ramallah. All demonstrations were banned in the West Bank to maintain “stability, security and the rule of the law.” It also reported of Hamas led demonstrations in Gaza.
So this is what we call the Holy Land. The land might be holy but in it’s so called holiness it is the source of hatred and violence. Emotion runs deep, connection and privledge to the land flows even deeper. It is hard to believe that a “joint understanding” will produce a relative peace here when heels keep digging deeper and deeper into this holy ground. In fact, the efforts at Annapolis are not a sign of hope but are provoking for both Israeli and Palestinians. And yet it is peace that everyone wants, well most everyone. It’s peace without compromise though which, as we know, will produce nothing.
What ever happened to the words of Isaiah, they shall beat their swords into plowshares…and nation shall not lift up sword against nation?