dispatches aperture poste restante etcetera

Living with Terror
By Gregg - 20 Sep, 1999

Page 2 of 4

Click to Enlarge

A bomb goes off on a bus in Israel. A random collection of people—"civilians"—are wounded and killed. You read about it in the paper—it seems far away. When you're here, you ride the bus, you look at the people's faces. You think.

A big problem—one that will perhaps take generations to change: Arabs fear the Israeli military and police; Israeli Jews fear Arabs. As foreign visitors, Evelyn and I exist outside of this environment of fear. We move easily between the Arab and Jewish areas of Jerusalem. We visit Ramallah in the West Bank and Gaza City in the Gaza Strip.

Outside of Ramallah, we visited the Palestinian university, Bir Zeit. A Palestinian from Australia, living in Ramallah and working at the university, told us he rarely visits Jerusalem—a short and inexpensive bus ride away. Too much hassle with the checkpoints. And his friends can't go at all.

A few days later we had lunch with a writer from Ha'aretz newspaper. She was shocked to learn that we'd been to Ramallah. She couldn't imagine going there herself—imagined she'd be immediately recognized as an Israeli Jew and quite possibly stabbed. As a college student in Jerusalem she had enjoyed going with her friends to East Jerusalem—to the vibrant and colorful Arab markets and neighborhoods. But then a Jew was stabbed there and she hasn't been back since.

Click to Enlarge

Our first night in Jerusalem we stayed in a hostel in the Arab quarter of the Old City. One of the other guests—a Palestinian from England—was telling his story. A day or two before our arrival ten heavily armed Israeli soldiers had entered the hostel. As pairs stationed themselves at the doorways on up to the third floor, they sought out the Palestinian and took him in for questioning. Ten hours later and after a representative from the British Embassy arrived to assist - he was released.

We asked him why he thought they'd brought him in. His reply "I don't know. Because I'm Palestinian?" This story left us rather mystified. Is the Israeli military really that paranoid or was there more to this guy's story?

Later that night, the manager of the hostel came to the upper deck where a group of us were taking in the view of the Dome of the Rock, said he had an announcement to make. "As you know we're undergoing renovation," he said, "Starting tomorrow your rooms will be under construction. You have to be out by 9am. We'll be closed for two days."

Click to Enlarge

It was a bit late to get this news. The place was large for a hostel and fully booked. We'd just arrived but others had been settled in for a week or more. Some were booked on an early morning tour and thus wouldn't be able to relocate in the morning.

By the next morning the rumor mill was churning. Word was that the hostel was being shut down because of the Palestinian from England.




  O'Jerusalem: a play in six acts
Living with Terror
  Beholding Jerusalem
  Take a tech trek (and e-mail when you get there)

  New York
    New York City
  West Africa
    The Gambia
Middle East
    Palestinian Territories
    Eastern Anatolia
    Central Anatolia
    Pushkar Fair
    Madhya Pradesh
    Uttar Pradesh
    West Bengal
    Sikkim & the NE
    (Rep. of China - Taiwan)
  USA - San Francisco, CA

"There is great meaning in life for those who are willing to journey."
-- James England
  © 1999/2000 ~ All Parents Perturbed.