“Second day in Belen. The military presence has intensified. We’ve been told that, although Christmas Eve is a party celebrated by the 3 religions in the area, they prepare for problems just in case. It’s strange being so near to so many weapons.”
“On the wall, we’ve divided the tasks. The night before, we created the theme, after coming to the conclusion that, no matter how much we try, we can’t understand why all of this happens. Let me explain: none of us practice any religion (and some of us don’t even believe in one), and as women, we don’t agree with either side. We said that we couldn’t even imagine the number of violations which must occur in Palestine, and similar violence happens on the Israeli side. In short, the situation is horrible, and fighting for something like that doesn’t appeal. So, in the end, we decided that the theme of the wall should have less to do with the present problem, and more to do with the situation hidden beneath it; a chain of total lack of respect for others.”
“This was the idea. On the wall, to the left of the tower which we painted yesterday, Den draws a face of an old Palestine lady, who over the years has seen the changes in her country. She uses the colors of the Palestine flag; bright red, forest green, white, and black; and works on one of the wall’s closed doors. From the other side of the wall, she hears noises which she can’t identify. We only manage to paint a stairway; progress is slow. On the right side, we paint an Eastern version of stories about altered realities and windows of possibilities. We use red, violet for destiny, and yellow for community. We have everything we need, with about a hundred cans of spray. The slogan: Make a new reality. Subsection: In the hotel, while I write this, songs from the (spanish artist) ‘El Fary’ play in the background.”
“Today, while we painted, the soldiers in the tower blew us kisses. The contrast between this and their attitude from yesterday is surreal. People down below invite us for a drink of something which tastes foul, but which we accept, to be nice. They ask us typical questions, like what the mediums of communication are like in Spain, as well as some other, deeper questions, which are hard to answer.”
“The light then fades, and the children try to sell us sweets, at prices fit for a diamond. An Italian woman from the Red Cross tells us that she had been there ever since her husband tried to kill her. He killed her son, and then shot her. We continue to paint. Some Russians pass by, they’re anxious to get to the check-point before it closes, or they’ll have to stay in Belen. By 6pm we can’t see anything, so we gather up everything and return to the hotel. Once there, the rest of the group tell us that they’ve been to Hebron, and have seen the tomb of Abraham, where both Jews and Muslims pray, though separated by a wall. Too much intensity and it’s only the second day.”
Text: Musa. Pictures: Mambanegra.