March 15 protest in Nazareth. (Photo: Mary Slosson)
Calls for unity among the leaders of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as stern demands for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, resounded from Mary’s Well in Nazareth tonight.
In a stand of solidarity with occupied Palestinians who rose up in Ramallah, Gaza City and other major hubs outside Israel today, nearly a hundred people gathered to sing songs and chant slogans in an effort to push Fatah and Hamas to put aside their differences. Thousands of others had gathered in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza’s major cities for the same purpose earlier in the day.
The demonstration in Nazareth, made up mostly of keffiyeh-clad youths, lasted a little over an hour, with torch lights illuminating the faces of the spirited youngsters where the angel Gabriel is said to have told Mary she would bear the son of God here in the northern-Israeli Biblical city, gateway to the Galilee.
“Our country, we love you so much, we give our souls and blood just to keep you alive,” sang 22-year-old Moataz Baslone, a Nazarene coffee-shop employee who rallied the crowd through a megaphone in a traditional call and response.
Baslone and the sign-carrying organizers were members of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, a leftist political coalition in Israel.
Demonstrator Mubada Jarjoura, a 49-year old travel agent in Nazareth, said the demonstration was about the possibility of a better future.
“The only hope is to make Hamas and Fatah unite. As long as they are not united in front of the occupation the Israelis will take the advantage and keep destroying and building illegal settlements -- by the way there are no legal settlements,” he said. “I’m happy to see this, but we need more and more and more.”
Jon Dillingham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He is an MA candidate in the Specialized Journalism program at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.