| ON NEIGHBORS AND GUNS
I took photographs at places about two blocks apart, both just west of St. George’s Cathedral: two places where people live where they ‘don’t belong.’ The first shows a makeshift ratty tent, set up in the yard in front of a large abandoned building. This is in east Jerusalem, the land allotted to the Palestinians. But where the tent is, they cannot get permission to restore the building, or to build anything else, so they are squatters in tents, so as to not lose their right to be in the city at all. They know that, if they leave, they may not ever be allowed back. So they camp. They keep goats there. This in the middle of a city of perhaps half a million people.
The other installation is Jewish settlers, having occupied, and perhaps built, on a space just two blocks away. They are on Palestinian-allotted land too, but unlike the Palestinians, they are not there because they can neither stay nor leave. They are there to take more land. The blue-and-white flag with the star of David flutters there. Oddly, it is filthy and tattered. As I looked, a fellow came out of this building and hopped nonchalantly down the stairs, casually sporting a gun in one hand.
‘If you smile at me, brother, I will understand… ‘cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.’ –'Wooden Ships', by Jefferson Airplane
When I strolled alone, sightseeing, the women and the children who noticed me were accepting and friendly. My smiles for their babies usually brought big beaming smiles in response.
But not so with the clusters of young Israeli soldiers, stationed hither and yon, at appointed intersections. They were not friendly.
They are just barely older than children - young drafted men who don’t entirely comprehend why they are stationed there. I wanted at times to give one of them a smile. But the guns put me off too much.
Young men strolling down the Via Dolorosa, nonchalantly, sporting their guns in their hand, ready to use! Not even safely tucked into a holster!
And young men with machine guns slung around their neck! One block from St. George’s Cathedral and school. What do you expect to do with a machine gun, in a city neighborhood, next to a school?
What a terrible thing to do to your young people – put them with a gun in a position of Occupier in Hostile Territory. How can the territory not be hostile, if you are there to ‘occupy’ it?
As a young man my husband Tommy was sent to Viet Nam to be a soldier. He tells me of how, during the times when he was on vacation elsewhere in the Far East, he would not be wearing his gun. He says he felt uncomfortable and insecure without it. The gun had become a protection he depended upon. So it seems to be for the settlers, and for the soldiers who roam the streets with guns or even machine guns in hand: could they any longer feel secure without those guns at the ready?
It seems to me that the guns have got to go. There are no friendly neighborhood relations with guns.