On the West Bank, the mood is resigned, edgy

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I was in Bethlehem when word came of the Israeli assassination in Gaza — “this is very bad news,” my friend said, looking at her phone — and then spent the rest of the night in the West Bank, and the only word for the mood here is, Resigned.

The people were quiet, even if they had one ear turned to radios screaming news of the killings. The checkpoints were mostly empty. The squares in Ramallah were jammed with police and young men, but the mood was reserved. A friend at the restaurant where I ate dinner described a march of 100 demonstrators in downtown Ramallah– but said it was largely restrained. No one was raucous, no one was outwardly angry. No fires were burning in the streets. In another room of the restaurant someone was smoking dope. “Welcome to hell,” a friend said, arriving, taking off his jacket. 

Here we go again– that was the feeling. The passivity and uncertainty of military occupation envelop the place. So Israeli is killing again in Gaza — what else is new? No one with any power is going to say anything. The Israelis have smashed any resistance again and again. And where is our leadership? Nowhere. 

The electricity in the restaurant went out for 5 minutes and the place was suddenly anxious. “Did you hear that?” It sounded like a double explosion. Edgy silence. Just like the feeling on the bus I rode into Ramallah two hours before when it broke down. People were nervous, afraid to leave their seats for ten minutes, before a couple of drivers got it going and people sat back.

And though there is talk of demonstrations at all the checkpoints, Qalandiya was dead when I came back into East Jerusalem at 11 o’clock. No one wants to be caught outside on a night like this; and people impose their own curfews. You don’t know what the Israelis will do. 

At that point The Dersh had tweeted with savage irony: People were worried that Obama was going to get hard on Israel, but they are murdering Palestinian men, women and children with impunity once again. 

So Gaza was Israel’s gift to Obama before his inauguration, and now upon his reelection. “Obama do you enjoy when Israel takes a [expletive deleted] in your lap after you win election to the most powerful office on Earth?” Scott Roth tweeted, while Ian Bremmer reported the inevitable news from the president’s news conference:

They hear America loud and clear in the West Bank, and it is the sound of indifference; and the bully goes wild once again.  

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