Hebron, with the Tomb of Abraham — so revered by both Jews and Muslims — is the place where I feel the most tension in the West Bank. Jews expect access, as do Muslims, and, with a history of massacres on both sides, trust is fragile here. Palestinians can do little but annoy the huge number of soldiers stationed here. Talking with soldiers who seemed to have little empathy for the people they were controlling, I thought of the troubling fact that in World War I, the French and Germans were so willing and able to slaughter each other on the Western Front because the vast majority of them had never broken bread with someone from the other side. The society here seems purposefully structured to prevent people from knowing each other. (I asked a Jew why, in a lifetime of living here, he had never shared a meal with a neighboring Muslim, and he blamed the dietary restrictions of their religions.) Seemingly likeable young soldiers were fun to chat with. Then, when it was time to go, one of them told me, “Time to bust down a door.”
Here’s a little clip taken on the no-man’s land street….until a soldier tells me not to shoot here.
If you can’t see the video below, watch it on YouTube.