Jericho. The city of the moon
My relationship with Jericho is that of fantasy and fancy. It is not just that I owe my non fair skin color to it, as my mother used to cover me with olive oil when I was a new born and wrap me under the burning sun of August, until my grandfather would call her to remove me before the cats eat me. As I grew up with this joke about my very first days of life, I came to imagine the fried smell that was coming out of me with that blend of skin and olive oil that definitely attracted the cats. Well my mother was still an obedient little woman of sixteen who had to follow strictly the orders of her mother in law. And of course I was the first child and was entitled for all kinds of experiments that included frying))).
To leave a bright end to this, it is true that I missed being blond and fair, something that was unlikely to happen in most probabilities. My skin is a bit of velvety, and I think it owes it to those olive oil bathes.
I am always taken with this piece of memory whenever I mention Jericho, as much as whenever I enter Jericho. It is all that nostalgia of what was really once the good old days … well, it was childhood. All us children (sisters and cousins). Free of most of mothers constraints and we practically had the whole city under our palms.
Jericho is all those unfinished memories of being a child and growing into adolescence wit ha spirit of a desired freedom that grew into the adult world of aspiring liberation.
So. As I entered Jericho, passing through the miraculous beauty of creation of the series of mountains that almost touch the sky, bending with silence to the gracious Dead Sea. A scene that is so artistic in the making, that always takes me to the mastery of creation. The colors seem to be brushes with a genius painter. The setting is so perfect. No matter how it inspires best artists in the reflection of nature. This scenery remains each and every single time the only work of a master of all arts.
I enter Jericho leaving the fascinating scenery of mountains and valleys behind to be greeted by the flat space of the modest Jericho. Palm trees spread in all and different directions. Colorful plants that are wild and domestically planted .a space that welcomes you into serenity to the oldest city civilization has known.
The disturbing rising buildings that have been increasingly growing through the last years start to distract my fascinated heart. A certain border starts forming itself between the freshly breathed air and those disturbing way of building.
Jericho has served as a winter retreat to Palestinians along the years for its very warm and hot weather. It has been always a great escape from the crowds and a quiet place to be. People used to mostly use bicycles as means of movements. Until it was crashed by cars in the last years. But cars are not the worse enemy of the city. It is those huge buildings that defy all means of any architecture or urban planning. No sense or taste. And above all distracting and a real destruction to the scenery of the city, in which its beauty lies in this flatness of the green land that is embraced back by the mount of temptation and is faced by the tails of the dead sea and the Jordanian mountains from the distance.
It has been a persistent annoying feeling that breaks the beauty of the silence and the aura of the space each time I drive though the city of Jericho. I try to suppress my feelings, being sorry for the lack of appreciation from the people towards such a beautiful place. That is in no urgency for such constructions.
Until I realized today the bigger problem … there has always been for the last twenty years a prison. The famous prison where the people accused for assassinating Zeevi is sentenced. It was one good sign of the city. One wouldn’t even notice the presence of the prison that seemed normal and modest within the whole setup. But it happened that I noticed today the bigger reason of my distraction. It wasn’t just those full stone ridiculously luxurious buildings with unnecessary stories. It was that “renovated “ prison. Jericho became how for a military school and college in the last years, and is the home of the security something also training centers. So you enter Jericho though this jail and you end in the military school.
This is not the topic actually. It is the renovation of that prison that one cannot miss anymore. Whoever is the genius that built it, seems either inspired by the Israeli segregation wall? Or was among the brokers of that wall so he doesn’t know any other design of a wall except that of the segregation wall. Of course I understand that the segregation wall is another living proof at this instance that is intended in the design to be a prison. But also this is not the point here as well.
The wall of that prison. As if you are in Guantanamo. Actually this is the first time I could have an imagining image of Guantanamo. Some place that is in a place that suits no proportion of neither the space or the place as well the nature and the environment. Something implanted like an ugly huge unfitting thing. That is tasteless and ugly.
So i was thinking … why do they need to have such a huge prison? It can actually take us all (population from the giant monstrously scene of the wall. It is true that the Israeli segregation wall succeeded in preventing prisoners, I mean Palestinians to sneak through it. But for God’s sake, the most wanted people on the face of this country (including Israel) have been in this prison when it barely looked like a modest compound and nobody ever attempted to escape or succeeded to?
It was a scene that justified all my previous nagging about the people who just build ,with no sense of beauty or compassion to the space from one side , and with no sense of taste and sense from the other side. How else can they build if the city of the moon hosts such a monstrous walled prison ? Even the mount of temptation dissolved in an eternal curse as this thing hijacks him completely .
I couldn’t but see that my own curse of the Paulo Frere obsession in the pedagogy of the oppressed making a new flipping chapters before my eyes, with no need to read anymore … it is all there.. a very living model.
I covered myself under the close sky lights with stars and planets and embraced by the moon and thought …. it could be the best place for a prison after all… maybe they left the roofs open from inside….