Post by Anonymous
Around half past ten in the morning, two other german students and me took the bus to Jerusalem and arrived at qalandia checkpoint soon. The people with a Palestinian ID had to get out first, while everyone with a different ID was checked inside the bus by a soldier. The bus took those of us with an ID from anywhere else than Palestine a bit further, where all of us entered another bus.
In Jerusalem we left the bus near the Damascus Gate and then entered the old town without a clue where to go next. So we just walked part of Via Dolorosa were we saw a group of Asian tourists carrying a big cross as if they were Jesus. After that we visited Western Wall.
Our attempts to find a way to the Temple Mount were rejected by soldiers. As we were walking around to make our way through, we were told only Muslims could pass. Finally, as we tried the third road, a soldier explained to us, we as non Muslims had to take a different entrance and we could only pass at certain hours. But in the end, none of us wanted to take that detour.
For me, the best part of the old town was definitely the variety of PokéStops. Finally I was able to fill my stock of Poké Balls! That was hard to do with only one PokéStop in Ramallah. Also noticeable was the amount of gyms controlled by Team Blue and that almost all of them were at highest level.
Our next stop was a second hand store. As we looked around the shop, more and more people showed up asking for a last minute costume. Later we found out that Purim took place, a kind of Jewish carnival. The later it got, the more people dressed up we noticed.
As I was waiting for a friend on the street, an old man started a conversation and told me a lot about his family’s history. After the Germans had attacked the Soviet Union and were getting closer to the village his family lived in, they were lucky enough to flee, but later many of his family members died in the war as soldiers of the Red Army.
He went on talking and a few minutes later my friend Doron came by and we were looking for a coffee place to take a seat. Soon we were deep into a political discussion – especially, because some of us wanted to get to know his point of view on things we had seen or heard during our exchange so far.
He said, Israel was tired of war and they wouldn’t enjoy acting as they do. The Israelis spent a lot of resources on trying to be as accurate as possible in fighting against terrorism and they are losing many young people, who migrate to other countries to avoid being involved in the conflict. He also said, this particular conflict was so much more complex than others, due to the span of time it is already going on and also due to the fact that it is not just about one thing – land, religion or resources – but about so many things at once. Additionally each side would not just claim to be right, but also explained part of their actions as a consequence of the other part’s actions. He said, he didn’t think an end is near, but he had a vision in mind of a plural state solution with a federal structure together with Jordan. Therefore he declared, the Palestinians would have to get rid of the idea of a Palestine in the borders of Israel in 1967. Also terrorism should be combated and should no longer be tolerated by society.
Suddenly a guy entered the café. He has his hair bleached so it forms the letters L and F. Doron mentioned that it’s probably short for “La Familia”, a new small far right group which formed from a football club. The whole situation left us a lot to think about as we went out.
Getting to the bus, we are told by the driver he would just leave us at Qalandia checkpoint and he couldn’t drive to Ramallah because of “problems”. After a while we got the word “teargas” out of him. A woman with two children also wanted to take a ride to Ramallah. She told us to wait for the next bus. The driver of the next bus also said he wouldn’t drive to Ramallah. We and the woman with her children took that bus anyway. At the checkpoint we had to get off and take a cab although everything seems quiet. We asked the woman what happened and she told us everything is fine. The drivers just didn’t want to make it further to Ramallah, because it’s easier for them.
Then we finally arrivde at our corner. We just got ourselves a fresh juice to go and headed home.
The four of us walked to the Vintage Café, where we met another member of our project group to have our group meeting and breakfast. The food was incredible but our work remained static somehow. The University put bureaucratic barriers in our way that made it hard for us to go on. As soon as we have planned further steps for our group work, I headed back to the apartment to get some writing done as well as research for my second project. Meanwhile a roommate suffers from bad food he had the other day.
Then I had a short nap and met many of the others again to take a ride to an indoor climbing gym. Because natives were joining us, we pay almost nothing for the cab. The climbing is pretty exhausting and in the break time very interesting conversations are going on. The Palestinian women told us, they were not allowed to have piercings, to go out or to travel. They told us, their mothers tell them they could do those things when they’re married. One of them said: “But that’s not true. When we are married, we still can’t do those things.”
After that a part of our group took a sauna. It’s only the males, because saunas are divided by gender and only saunas for males were open.
As the three Germans of the group for a Second Hand Shop we headed to Beit Sahour, where a Second Hand Shop we want to visit is located. After getting to the small place, it was hard for us to find the store. The pedestrian we ask didn’t know about it. We asked a woman who also wanted to go there coincidentally and she could show us the way. At the shop we had to realise that for our pity it’s still closed although it should be open. The friendly foreign woman took us to Singer Café where everyone speaks English and everyone is acquainted with one another. There she tried to call the owner of the Second Hand Shop. About an hour later she finally arrived at Singer Café and first she had a coffee there before she finally headed to her shop. A second later we followed her path and entered the store. It’s a small shop with only a few items in it where everything seems lovingly arranged. The manager seemed pretty pleased about our interest in her shop. We asked her different things about her business and I bought two baby hats, then we left to Bethlehem.
All of us three we perceived Bethlehem as touristic in an unpleasant way. Big gaggles were chased through the churches and in the streets only cheap junk is sold. By feet we headed in direction of the Wall or rather to Banksy shop and Banksy Hotel where it’s primarily very touristic, too. We saw a stream of men and passed it in the opposite direction towards Jerusalem.
We entered the checkpoint which was a quite heavy experience. There were turnstiles with a lonely metal detector and a scanner for items behind them. Everyone seemed really experienced although everything went quite chaotic. We saw a group of around fifteen men trying to pass the metal detector. They stepped through it and went back several times in a row while the next of them went through and back until they got rid of every metallic thing on them, so the metal detector wouldn’t make a sound anymore. There was only one guard in a box nearby, but he was quite invisible. At the end of the checkpoint there were ID controls. Everyone with a green ID had to scan their fingerprints. The three of us only take out our passports and immediately someone waves us through.
In Jerusalem we just visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which we missed the other day. When we took the bus home afterwards, it was already getting dark. At least the bus took us straight to Ramallah this time.