The Mayor received us in his office with a formal welcome. Dignified, informed, compassionate, he told his sad truth with inspiring authenticity.
“Peace comes hard without justice.”
“We were promised peace in 1993 and we are still waiting.”
“Your government has not been very supportive.”
We now have a wall that is built inside our boundaries, separating a child from her school, a farmer from his olives, even splitting families on their own land.
“Checkpoints create hate”
“WE ARE LOSING HOPE”
He then answered questions about how the city functions and what is planned.
We went to the American Academy School, a private English medium school which started as an elementary a few years ago and is adding a grade every year. The sophomores and their teachers spoke with us about their accomplishments and aspirations. Kudos for dedication go to a young man who has to cross checkpoints which turn his 20 minute commute to one and a half hours each way. A checkpoint is where you have to face someone just a few years older than you who gets to decide whether you go to school that day or not and who has an automatic weapon. You know the soldier is suffering too because he fears you; has been schooled in the school of fear. Kudos for outlandish creativity go to the Palestinian Harry Potter double who is entering a Lego robot contest! I’ll try to send the video.
We had a long walk around the city with Aboud…he has a great way of bringing all the old stone buildings to life, filling them with horses. people, visiting dignitaries. Wandered through the souk, visited an old soap factory, a palace, and an open air shop where they make the marvel kanafeh-a somewhat crunchy semolina crust with a white cheese filling. Think ricotta meets mozarella and a melting romance develops. The happy ending is sweet-the whole thing is annointed with sweetened rose water and there you are standing in the middle of the Souk with a spoon in your hand and a sticky grin on your face.
As you come out of your rosy reverie you realize that you have been the entertainment for the small crowd awaiting the next golden 2 foot pan of delight to arrive on the Kanafeh cook-top.