5 Poems and Pictures from Jerusalem Day 2014

1. I have nothing new to say about violence.

It feels sad and electric to see,

like usual.

By evening, satisfied

some of the policemen

eat sandwiches.

photo 4
Police violence against a Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate, “Jerusalem Day,” 2014

2. Speaking of sad:

the nine year olds wearing Kahana Was Right stickers

otherwise readable as

I Hate Arabs 

stickers.

If only it was just one of them

or just ten of them.

(Let’s don’t spend so much time about how “they”

teach their children hate until “we’ve”

fixed up what’s going down at “home,”

innit?)

March of the Flags
Children’s March of the Flags

3. Speaking of home:

the man leaning in the stairwell of his house

in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

A flood of boys and men with a sprinkling

of women

and babies

(!?!?!)

sweeps past in an unending river of blue surf and white foam

chanting “God, We Love You!”

chanting “The Nation of Israel Lives!”

and sometimes, making explicit the [sort of] implicit

chanting “May Palestine’s Name Be Wiped Out!”

He leans, unmoving, smoking a cigarette

after cigarette.

Maybe I’ve watched too many Phillip Morris-

bankrolled Hollywood Flicks

but goddam he looked

dignified.

Old City, Jerusalem
In the courtyard of his house, a man smokes and waits for the parade to pass. Muslim Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem

4. Speaking of wiped out:

My dear friend tells me

he was once on a Navajo Reservation

On the Fourth of July

Did they protest? I ask

Mourn?

Not that I saw, he says.

They shot fireworks

and drank.

But this isn’t that.

Metaphors are scrawny animals.

Here isn’t there.

Here they protest

and mourn-

right? Although maybe there

they protested and mourned as well.

Because here:

By the time the parade arrive

It was as if no one had been there

to protest or mourn.

Just a scattered fistful of witnesses

Among the ocean of smiles.

Damascus Gate at Sunset
The Parade reaches the Damascus Gate at Sunset

5. I am sorry for this

I didn’t do it but I also didn’t do enough to make it not be done

So I am sorry

Please accept these words as a burnt offering.

I don’t feel forgiven or cleared.

At best, I feel like a plate rinsed off with cold water

but the oil still sticks.

Metaphors are such scrawny animals.

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem Day, 2014
Horses at the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem Day, 2014

***

Recommended additional reading and pictures from this year’s Jerusalem Day, and more:

*A. Daniel Roth’s Nationalism in Jerusalem on his excellent blog, All These Days.

*Gila Hashkes’ status on Facebook about her experience being pushed and kicked by the police at the Damascus Gate.

*Leanne Gale’s piece in the Forward, ‘Go to Hell, Leftist’ and Other Jerusalem Day Slogans.

*Videos by Guy Butavia:

[These firsthand reflections come from Israeli or North American Jews as a direct function of the fact that Palestinians were barred from the scene].

*Ongoing coverage of the happenings on the ground in Jerusalem by the Wadi Hilweh Information Center.

*Ir Amim’s informational resources about Jerusalem Day and Jerusalem in general.

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