In December ’17 Donald Trump sparked feelings across the globe by officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A UN resolution opposed the decision. Still some countries start following by moving their embassies to the so-called ‚Holy City‘. Across the world people take the issue to the streets to show solidarity with Palestine – in Germany lead by antisemitic chants and even the carrying of an Al-Quaida flag. Clashes in the West Bank and Gaza have gotten more intense, leaving people shot dead. A peaceful solution to the conflict seems further away. All of this comes at Christmas time.
The Holy City – Home of Christianity, Islam and Judaism
The three monotheistic religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism see Jerusalem as the home of their churches. In history all these religionshave made the attempt several times to proclaim Jerusalem as theirs. Crusades and war plaster the city’s history. Coexistence though has to work out in modern days – in a progressive open society. At the Western Wall hundreds of Jewish people go to prey every day. The call for prayer from Al Aqsa can be heard across the Old city several times daily. Christians bow down and kiss the stone at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To give an impression, pictures from Old City, Jerusalem:
No Business in Tough Times
Storm and rain shatter the Bethlehem area on christmas eve. Heavy armed Palestinian guards can be spotted everywhere carrying AK-47 rifles watching people move throughout Bethlehem. Boy and girl scouts parade through the city to the ‚Nativity Church‘. Groups of predominantly Asian tourists roam the area. In the ‚Holy Land‘ however, people are worried. Worried about the upcoming year. Angry about Trump. The reality of life for many here is filled with everyday struggle. Waiting at checkpoints. Also facing racism. Witnessing brutality during weekly clashes are completely normal. A taxi driver states his frustration on the 24th, brining our correspondent to a checkpoint, near Bethlehem:
Today I will go home only at six. Usually at Christmas I work until two in the morning. All the hotels are empty. Trump ruined it. I will go to sleep with my family. I don’t care about no government or group – I don’T trust any of them. I just want to live.
With tourism being one of the most important sources of income for Palestinians living in the Bethlehem area Trump’s decision seems to come at the worst point of time possible. Fearing further escalation many pilgrims seemed to have ditched on Christmas in Palestine.
Oil in the Fire
For decades, weekly after Friday prayer as well as every other day Israeli forces and Palestinians clash. Protest though has intensified according to people covering clashes in the area for a longer period. A young Palestinian hiding between reporters, wearing a fake bomb belt, fatally wounded by Israeli soldiers after stabbing one of them has made work for journalists extremely difficult. During clashes at Beit El settlement near Ramallah on Friday December 22nd, IDF forces heavily target journalists and medical staff. At gunpoint those were pushed back during an arrest. Reports and videos show a red crescent worker being hit by Israeli soldiers trying to help a wounded man who is being arrested. Sound bombs. Teargas. Live shots with ironically called ‚less lethal‘, as well as normal bullets were fired. Throughout the Middle East anger has been sparked.
A Solution ? – Not proposed by me.
To give a solution in this conflict seems to be so easy for many. Everyone blames the other. Many deny the other’s right to exist. Humans at their worst – by saying that I refer to so many. This counts for protest of four- or five-year olds that is endorsed by their families, as well as for soldiers firing live shots at protestors. Ironically I state knowing this is not a solution at all – after seeing the amount of street cats – this is the land of the cats, that’s it.