The sun was VERY hot and there was NO shade. It was, after all, two o'clock in the afternoon, in the middle of July, in the middle of Jerusalem, in the heat of the summer.
But, there was a wonderful atmosphere. There were many, many smiles, huge banners and flags, drums, old and young, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, men and women, and children.
People came from all parts of Israel - 9 bus loads alone from Tel Aviv. Thousands from the north to the south.
Thousands march together in solidarity for Palestinian independence
We marched for Palestinian independence, the end to the Occupation, for freedom, for equality, for peaceful co-existence between neighbors. We called out slogans in Hebrew, in Arabic and in English. We gave one another water, helped one another along the one and a half hour walk from the Jaffa Gate to Sheik Jarrah. We carried signs for one another, smiled at one another, met old and new friends. We waved to passerbys and invited them to join in. Many did.
I wish that the weather had been 10 degrees cooler, that there had been a bit of shade. But in spite of the not-so-easy conditions (you could tell this was an event organized by young people...), I was so glad to be there. To walk along the walls of the Old City, Israelis and Palestinians together, be part of a groundswell that calls and works for peace.
I met Mamoun among the crowd - big hugs and smiles. We walked together for most of the time. He brought me water and introduced me to his students, who were filming the event. I introduced him to my Israeli friends that I met along the way: "This is Mamoun, the Palestinian director of Friendship across Borders - this is my friend
Other friends were there from FAB and from Other Voice - Alon, Michal, Dana, Alon, Ariel, Naomi, Nomika, Shmulik...
Alon, Dana and Ariel - 2 Jerusalems, one Peace; Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies
On our way back home, Vivian - a round the clock peace and social justice activist, the co-excutive director of The Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development said:
"When you called yesterday [Thursday] and told me about the march, my first thought was 'Oh no, I SO much just wanted to have a day at home. Not to travel anywhere. Not to do anything. Just relax. But then I thought, how can I not go? This is our responsibility and we can't ignore it. We may end up living in a fascist country, but I guess the two of us will die fighting for its freedom"
I don't want to die in a fascist country (truth be told, I don't want to die at all...). But if I have to go, I want it to be in a peaceful, democratic country that knows and honors human life and dignity. But if I can't have that, then Vivian might be right...