Friday 23 June 2017

No rage, just resignation on Jerusalem's streets

A masked man fires a slingshot in front of a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli troops near the West bank city of Ramallah yesterday
A masked man fires a slingshot in front of a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli troops near the West bank city of Ramallah yesterday

So there I was, on the Via Dolorosa of course, chatting to a middle-aged guy in a red T-shirt and just a wisp of a beard with a prayer rug under his left arm.

And I asked him, of course, what he thought about Barack Obama's speech. He grinned at me like he knew I had already guessed what he was going to say. "What did you expect?" he asked. Correct guess. After all, 'Haaretz' newspaper had already referred this week to "President Barack Netanyahu" while the racist Israeli foreign minister said he would sign the speech with both hands. Maybe, I reflected in Jerusalem yesterday, Obama really is seeking election -- to the Israeli Knesset.

But what was so striking about the streets of Jerusalem yesterday was the sense of resignation, of weary acceptance. The Israeli papers had warned of mass violence, but the crowds who turned up for morning prayers at Al Aqsa simply laid out their prayer rugs on the highway outside the Damascus Gate or in the laneways behind the mosque and showed scarcely any interest in talking about Obama. Maybe America's UN veto will rouse them to passion, but I have my doubts.

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