Friday, September 23, 2011
A Once Proud Flag, Drooping and Lonely
Feeble is the word that has come to mind repeatedly today - the day after; the day after the UN speeches by Abbas (and Netanyahu), and the formal submission of the request to be recognized as a State. At least in E Jerusalem, the energy is very low. There were times - not too distant - that the child above waving a symbol of Palestine would have energized a large crowd expressing the passion of decades of struggle. But here, he drew more photographers than supporters.
The pic was taken just after Friday prayers had been completed on this street corner just opposite Damascus Gate by those men younger than 50 who aren't permitted by Israeli security to pray at Al Aqsa mosque inside the city walls. The scraps of cardboard on the pavers were used just minutes before to cushion the kneeling pray-ers. The 200 of them had already left the area, however, defying expectations that there would be confrontations - particularly because of the disappointment (disgust?) so many felt in Obama's UN speech the night before.
The intersection was stocked with all forms of IDF and police, including cavalry. I stayed the whole time watching, but was never able to feel that the forecast for troubles would eventuate. As R. Fisk - who apparently was doing just what I was doing, but inside the city walls - noted in the Independent, there is just a pervasive depressive feeling here, as if life is too heavy to spare any energy for hope.
News reports from Ramallah seemed different: boisterous demonstrations, placards of Abbas. Indeed, following Abbas' speech last night, there were rounds of fireworks I could easily hear from the apartment in the Old City - and today walking through E Jerusalem, it was easy to hear pride expressed about his address. His surprising determination and conviction do appear to have broken through the malaise here - but it still feels fleeting and feeble.