The it is possible to avoid Christmas Day type post

by ray goodlass

Free today as it was Christmas Day, so a group of us organised to go on a no-cost tour of Jerusalem, which was notable for exploring the four quarters of the Old City: Muslim, Jewish and the two Christian ones, as well as having a good look at the old city walls and some of its gates. All useful background when Ihave my week there after the Peace Camp.

Despite the importance of Christianity to Bethlehem and the churches in the Old City of Jerusalem, today isn’t a public holiday in either Israel or Palestine, which is why I was able to, thankfully, avoid the whole charade.

Also today, as always when entering Israel, I had to contend with the oppressive Israeli checkpoints in the ‘Wall’, complete with machine gun-toting Israeli soldier/guards. “Welcome to Israel” it ain’t – unlike at well-heeled and very public Western tourist locations such as Ben Gurion International Airport, though I also found that on the ‘heavy’ side.

Back crossing the ‘Wall’, somehow to me, though Palestine is noticably less afluent, it feels freer and politically more progressive. Crossing out of Israel feels like a relief.

Which leads me to today’s politicaal comment, which I read about today in ‘Haaretz’, an Isreali newspaper, the gist of which is that right wing Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu, would welcome a Hamas take-over of the West Bank, indeed are both openly and covertly are working towards it, because it would give them a big, fearful ogre to frighten the Israeli electorate with, and so bolster their election prospects for the foreseeable future. That is why Israelt let Hamas leader Khaled Meshal into Gaza recently, and why they do everything they can to ensure the failure of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah led government in the West Bank, which is working hard for a peaceful two state solution – including currently with-holding all the Palestian taxes they have collected, thereby denying Abbas the opportuniy to provide services and pay public servants.  This does not bode well.

And, as a by-the-way, I suspect that Hamas seems to be able to provide public services in Gaza because it seems to be comparativel well funded from Muslim religious organisations