In the last decade Israel built a wall separating it from the Palestinian Territories in order to stop Palestinian terrorists from getting into Israel, and most people in Israel attribute the dramatic drop in violence since then to this barrier. Since the wall’s been erected, terrorism within Israel has gone down about 90 percent. While it has angered people around the world who care about the plight of the Palestinians, many Israelis would say, “Sorry about the inconvenience, but what’s a matter of convenience for Palestinians is a matter of survival for us.” While the wall is generally nicely finished on the Israeli side, on the Palestinian side it’s rough concrete punctuated by fortified towers. The concrete provides a big and inviting canvas for angry Arab artists and fascinating viewing for any visitor.
When Israel celebrates its Independence Day each spring, the same event is mourned as “The Day of Catastrophe” on the other side of this wall. While Israelis celebrate their independence by setting off fireworks and having big family BBQs, charred towers like this one are a reminder that, on the other side of the barrier, the anniversary is remembered differently — for example, it’s an excuse for angry Palestinian teenagers to stack tires against these symbols of occupation and set them on fire.
Much of the art along the wall has a David and Goliath theme, with slingshot-wielding boys tormenting well-armed troops.
There’s a big culture of hero- and martyr worship in Palestine. This woman, Leila Khaled, won notoriety by hijacking a TWA plane flying from Rome to Tel Aviv in 1969. Is she a terrorist or a freedom fighter? It really depends on who you ask.
In this mural the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is lionized. I was told that there’s a very good likelihood that the extreme Hamas party could beat the more moderate Fatah party in the next Palestinian election, which could in turn radicalize the West Bank as Hamas has radicalized Gaza. Moderates claim that if Israel would let Barghouti — the only Fatah leader with any charisma — free, Barghouti could help things stay on a moderate course. Many wonder why, if Barghouti could help moderation and Hamas would bring more extremism, Israel refuses to release Barghouti.