INTOLERANCE HITS YET AGAIN

“Day 3 in Belen. It’s really hot out. While the rest of the group follows the activities in Ramalla, we return to the wall. The aim is to finish it today. Once we get there, Den continues painting the gate. A journalist, Lucia, and photographer, Mamba, helped to fill in the background, with argo blue, and anthracite grey. On the left part, Yubia continues to add to what we did yesterday, while Makoh and I work on the lettering, which we fill in with light colors, to add contrast to the multi-color background.”

“While we’re painting, cameras from Belen TV programs show up to ask us the usual questions. They don’t seem happy that we’re painting the wall. They’re of the opinion that decorating it negates their stance that it shouldn’t exist in the first place. It’s hard to refute, but we explain that we have good intentions, and that we agree that it shouldn’t exist. Nor do they seem to like that Den is painting the gate. They don’t like the idea that tomorrow the Patriarch and his entourage will pass by the gate, and see it to be beautiful. After a lot of explaining, we manage to get them to accept our point of view. A little later, children come and do some painting. They’re mischievous.” 🙂

“But the best part of the morning is yet to arrive; when we finish filling in the letters of our slogan ‘Make a New Reality’, it all kicks off. The gate where Den is working, opens. It takes her a second to react, but she then quickly lets us know what is happening.”

“We all run towards her, camera in hand, in the hopes of taking the photo of the day. Six members of the security force interrogate Den, and Ruben, who is the coordinator of the platform and our bodyguard these past few days. They ask for our passports. I’m the furthest away, so am the last to be checked, and I hang back, keeping a watch over our things.”

“Ruben tries to argue with the soldiers, because they’re trying to arrest us. They hold on to the passports, apart from Ruben’s, who doesn’t have it with her, and mine, which Yubia has hidden. Some phrases which spilled out of their mouths, “I don’t understand why you have come to Spain to attack Israel”, and, the most surreal, “The wall is ours, don’t touch it.” They’re rude and violent, but mysteriously, we manage to remain calm.”

“After a few minutes of conversation, they let us go, with the warning that if we come back to paint the wall, they’ll send us to prison. They give us back our passports, and we collect our stuff. As if all the tension weren’t enough, the Palestine kids try to rob our paint.”

“Finally, we get back to the hotel, without any more problems. Once there, an Al-Fata representative comes by to check that we’re all okay, and tells us what the Israelis are capable of; the typical conversation, which manages us to relax us. The sad thing is now we can’t finish the wall, but on Friday we will paint a wall in the city, to finish what we came here to do. We have ended the day visiting Belen’s portal. It all still feels surreal; let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

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