JERICHO ROAD REFLECTION
Bridget Jensen (Houston, Texas)
Our first up close encounter with the "separation wall," euphemistically called the "security fence" by Israel, or "the exclusion and annexation wall" by our Palestinian activist guide, was along the Jericho Road in East Jerusalem.
I'm afraid our U.S. President will be encouraged in his campaign for a border wall if he sees this massive construction on his upcoming visit. After all, he doesn't like to be out done, especially in matters of size. Also, Israel has already begun exporting other security" techniques from its military to our police forces.
As I stood on a sidewalk on one side of the road, thinking about how the children of the family on the side I was on could no longer meet up to play with the children whose house was just beyond the wall, I noticed the street sign.
All the street signs in East Jerusalem are written in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and English. I noticed that the Arabic had been covered up with black spray paint.
Though the separation wall had large patches of lavender paint, obviously rolled over to cover up graffiti, this didn't seem to be the work of any "clean up" crew, especially since graffiti in a similar black paint was on the small retaining wall across from the Wall.
I wondered why this act of graffiti on a street sign and thought perhaps it symbolized that with the Separation Wall, the real Jericho Road no longer existed. The other explanation could be that the term used in Arabic was not the term the Palestinians preferred and so was being blacked out.
As is the case with any colonial venture, names get changed, just as Denali became Mt. McKinley in Alaska. Our group had already heard of instances of the renaming of Palestinian villages by Israel and the same might be done with streets.
Though the Wall is an intimidating structure and the voices of resistance painted on the wall had been covered up for the most part, I saw one voice of graffiti that seemed to emerge from the wall itself. The words appeared very faint, probably because an attempt to power wash it out had not been completely effective.
Somehow the words were faint enough to have escaped the blanket of lavender cover up. Such is the Palestinian resistance, persisting despite attempts to subdue it, even if through subtle acts of defiance or in indirect ways.
The message of the graffiti: "You Gotta Keep Your Head Up."
I love the double meaning: "Pay attention! Be alert!" and "Be Proud to be Palestinian." It sums up what I have seen so far to be the Palestinian perspective.