20 Apr 2016 316 views
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The message of peace was given to the shepherds, long ago. Since then, a lot took place and today, the country of Israel is divided into the Israeli state and the Palestinian state, all of it still under governance of the Israeli Knesset. The largest part of the Palestinian state is also known as the West Bank (west bank of the river Jordan). The West Bank includes the larger part of Bethlehem. The West Bank is fenced in with formidable fences. Where Bethlehem borders the small Israeli part of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the fence has been upgraded to a very high wall. See the first picture, where the wall dwarfs a truck.


In the area where I took these pictures, a lot of petrol bombs got chucked at the Jews living lower down the slope. The height of the walls, makes it impossible to throw Molotov's anymore. The wall is also handy for grafitti artists on the Palestinian side, while there is a glaring absence of grafitti on the other side of the wall. When we left in the bus, we drove past a Banksy in a side steet, about 100m from where I took the top left picture. I later confirmed it as a Banksy - a Peace Dove sporting a chain mail vest.


The Israeli government argues that it protects civilians from suicide bombings and other terror attacks that increased significantly during the second Intifada. The barrier contributed to decrease in suicide bombings from 73 (killing 293 and injuring 1,900) in the three years leading up to July 2003 to 12 in the next 3 years.


Apart from decreasing the incidence of suicide bombings and other attacks, the walls also have the impact of making life very difficult for Palestinians. People living on the Palestinian side of the wall, have to pass through one of various check points (different from the fences, the wall check points are staffed), to gain access to the economy of Jerusalem in this case. In the bottom right picture, we are queueing to pass through the check point, up ahead, under the white barrier that cross the road.


Too many groupings claim the land of 'milk and honey' and it has been going on for a couple of thousand years. It would take a modern day miracle to sort that out. There is quite a number of influences interfering (or 'trying' to help) - the West is just one of them. I found the people on the ground to be aggressive and obstinate (Palestinians) and obstinate and arrogant (Israeli). Each have their own supporting groups from outside. Then there are many other smaller groupings that are neither Palestinian, nor Israeli, who get marginalised in some way. Palestinians are not necessarily Muslims and Israeli's are not necessarily Jews. Necessity sometimes make strange bedfellows.


The main issue remaining is a very messy entanglement of groupings, each with their own agenda and support influences.


comments (16)

A great human tragedy and outrage...
Louis: Bad business, all around, Larry.
this is a very dramatic presentation Louis...
will it ever endsad
Louis: Meant to be dramatic, peter - thank you. I cannot see how it will end, but with a big bang.
  • Ray
  • United States
  • 20 Apr 2016, 01:55
Graphically disturbing post, Louis.

This mess is not going to be sorted out any time soon.
Louis: The two main parties are pretty much entrenched behind their walls, even if they mix a lot in their daily doings. Strange business.
  • Martine
  • France
  • 20 Apr 2016, 03:59
Je trouve le premier tag très violent.
Louis: La violence fait partie de la vie quotidienne de gens en Israël. Il y avait encore plus troublant des balises et des slogans.
Quite a tragedy Louis, isn't it?
Louis: Absolutely, Chris. Both sides can do with cleaning up their acts.
  • Lisl
  • England
  • 20 Apr 2016, 06:29
Thank you for this detailed resume, Louis. I though it sad that the people were unfriendly to visitors
Louis: Maybe I have been harsh on some of the people on both sides. When you enter definite tourist spots, or has been made out to be a real tourist, people from both sides can be very friendly. When things break down, or your tourist identity is not clear, you experience that other side. For instance - you walk through a market and a Palestinian spots you as a tourist and by definition, you must have lots of money and no good judgment. When he fails to strike a sale, many a time they will be verbally aggressive. When we lived in the backpackers in Jerusalem. there was a little 'garden' with seats in front of the falafel man's emporium. Every 20 mins or so, big arguments will break out.
Similarly, I had experiences with Israeli's at various times. The worst was at the airport - but then, all airports excel in bad service; while extracting exorbitant sums of money from flying passengers. But the one airport's staff will do it with a smile, and at Ben Gurion, they do it with arrogance.
Some excellent photojournalism... and journalism, Louis. I'm learning much from your trip.
Louis: Thank you Elizabeth. I learned a lot myself, during this trip.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 20 Apr 2016, 06:51
It is horrible and very sad!
Louis: True and very sad, Philine.
It all blows the mind, Louis, to be honest. If it hasn't been "solved" yet, one wonders why anyone tries???? But what would happen if no one DOES try???
Louis: The Middle East in general, is a place where a lot more 'trying' is required. The other day I had a chat with a friend and the subject turned to ISIS. So my question was - the US, UK, France, Turkey, etc know that the ISIS's success is due to their access to funds. Banks accounts are known, they captured oil fields and refineries and all of it is funding their killing efforts. The powers to be should be able to stop the flow of funds and shut down the oil fields. My friend replied, that 'they' won't close the oil fields, because you must consider who is buying the oil ...
  • Chris
  • England
  • 20 Apr 2016, 07:01
Oh dear, a land of strife and division
Louis: Exactly, Chris.
Ah yes Louis, back to the theme of war. In Befast the Catholic/Nationalist population fly the Palestinian flag alongside their's and the Unionists fly the Israeli flag in response.
Louis: From back when I was involved in such stuff, I know that the Palestinians visited the IRA and picked up some tips of how to make life bloody awful for the other side. So that part of the equation doesn't surprise me much. Thanks for the interesting info. Like I mentioned, a lot of people over the world align themselves with either one of the two sides in Israel, not really knowing why they are doing it, except for living the need to be different from the opposing political grouping in their own country.
It is so much always in the name of religion and none of these religions prompts violence in their teachings. I just don't understand how these things can go no and on in bad feeling, fighting and wars for so long.

I refer you to wars everywhere. I am so, so sad about violence and war.
Louis: Greed always has something to do with it. People in general think it will be great to be rich and powerful, especially if you don't have to work for it. And the leaders are very adapt at inciting the real have nots, to do the dangerous work. Blessed are those that are satisfied with what they have.
Rather than say this is a good presentation Louis I am going to say is is very thought provoking and your narrative just highlights how the probability of the various factions ever reaching a situation where they can live together in peace seems to get further and further away almost by the day.
Louis: Way back, when Abraham traveled from Ur of the Chaldees in following God's command - the area that we now know as Israel, had inhabitants by the name of Philistines, Moabites and some more nations/kingdoms. He traveled through this area towards Egypt. Then turned back and settled in Hebron, where he is also buried in the cave of Machpela. Now, one would tend to think of the Palestinians as a offspring of those other nations at the time. There may be such blood in their veins, but possibly also in the veins of Israeli's. Both the Israeli's and the Palestinians, both claim Abraham as their great ancestor. After all, Isaac and Ishmael had the same father. The bad blood, between the two groups go back to that point in history - roughly 4,000 years ago. The grandmother of all feuds.
I wonder what would have been the history had there been no oil in the middle east?
Louis: No oil, no money to buy destruction. But that would probably have made no difference in the state of Israel, where there is no oil.

Prosperity in Israel is created through the industriousness of the Israeli's. That would probably have created envy from their neighbours.

Religion wise, the Palestinian Muslims and Jews (largest two religious groups), both claim Abraham as their most important ancestor. A lot of strive emanates from this aspect.

My feeling is that the only way that the Palestinians can seriously challenge the Israeli's, is through the money they receive from the oil rich Muslim countries.

I have now mentioned a few aspects influencing the struggle. I think (and they are only my thoughts) that the aggression would still have been there, but on a much lower key.
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 20 Apr 2016, 17:45
This is very telling how people think about it all. I think that a lot of people don't understand the situation what is going on. And there is the question, 'will they ever stop fighting over some land'.
Great set of pictures, but also very sad when you think of it.
Louis: Thank you Astrid. I believe the fighting can only stop when one of the two factions disappear from the face of the earth - and that is very unlikely. Very sad, indeed.
i think you made some incisive observations in the text. some powerful shots of the graffiti, Louis.
Louis: Since I am not involved in either side, I can be objective about the touch points on both sides, I believe. Thank you Ayush.

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