'Anata, Abu Dis, Sheikh Saed, Fri 12.9.08, Morning
Haya A., Avital T. (reporting), two visiting history students from the UK
Shekh Saed, Friday, second of Ramadan
Beyond the well-tended roads of the promenade and Armon Hanatziv, and further on through the scenic road with construction billboards, that is where the houses and neglected streets of Jabel Mukaber begin, leading us sharply to the Wall and the bags of garbage of the Shekh Sa'ad neighbourhood.
Later I read in Kol Ha'ir about the Garden of Tolerance and the Statue of Tolerance recently set up between Jabel Mukaber and the Jewish neighbourhood of Armon Hanatziv at the far end of the Promenade. It appears that the statue was put up at the request or demand for tolerance and forebearance on the part of the residents of Jabel Mukaber in response to the horror of the "Nof Zion" complex rising on their threshold as well as on part of their land. And, to complete the spectacle, in the midst of the garden of tolerance, the wall of tolerance has been erected.
In Sheikh Saed the garbage is where it always is: at the foot of the hill, surrounded on all sides.
We went up and were greeted politely by the border-police officer.
A young father carrying his little girl wishes to visit a doctor in Jerusalem. The father carries no identification, says his ID is with the lawyer who is dealing with a request for family reunion. The officer requires some other identification, but the man has none, and we are helpless.
A few persons cross, with greetings and no problems. It appears that all those exiting are registered residents, the few guards detain no one, and our presence is not required. After an hour we decided to move to a more active checkpoint. We moved on and at the bottom of the hill found one female soldier. One location without arms on the ready, without signs of fear.
We arrived at 11:30. Already from a distance we could see the crowd of men and women, horses, honking cars, the tumult at its height, as described by Ruth R.
In truth, turmoil and nervousness were quite unnecessary: after 6 days of prayer at the Anata checkpoint, last year and this year, we learned how the worshippers can be quickly checked and quietly and politely directed. Unfortunately this Friday, towards the time of closing of the gates at 12:00, there was a tense atmosphere due to faulty organisation of the "sterile area." When we inquired about the purpose of this area, which leaves a very narrow passage for pedestrians between the hurrying vehicles, we were told it was imperative because of the recent tension in the territories. In the face of this invention -- and the downcast faces of a handful of women turned back because of their age -- we had nothing to contribute.