A state of a chaotic mess – A live streaming Fawda
I look around, and I don’t know where to start. What to write about. What to discuss. What to think of if there is anything left for thinking.
It is not a state of despair. It is a state of a chaotic mess that is swallowing everything and everyone in a whirlpool that seems endless.
I try to make a habit of my walking strides, beating steps or miles, or cutting out the fats of sitting down. That street of my neighborhood was the road where people used to stroll around in the evenings. It was known for its cleanliness and quietness and somehow reflected this town’s quiet but enigmatic side. Busy, full of life, a life that seemed somehow reflective once upon a distant time.
I am talking about Beit Hanina’s main street.
Now I walk into a giant street busy with cars and filled with stores of all types. Lights as distracting as car honks from all around.
I tell myself that things have changed. People changed. It should be expected in the evolvement of humankind.
But it is not that. It is not about a busy street. The street was always busy.
It is not about cars. It was always filled with cars.
It s not about pedestrians.
Pedestrians are disappearing while cars are taking over the wide pavements that were designed for pedestrians and cycling.
Something else is happening, and it is not only in Beit Hanina. Beit Hanina is becoming like Kufur Aqab when one sees the crowds. The cars. The young men gathered staring, smoking, with loud music in vehicles.
Cars racing in the middle of all this crowd. Motorcycle, cars with noises. Children not distinguished in the noise of such nights.
The danger is the word that comes out of my mouth with every move I make.
Each day, each passing moment, you live with an expected disaster that is about to take place: a car accident, a street fight, anything.
Noise and loudness. Emptiness in the middle of crowdedness. No place for normality.
Last night, as I was walking, taken maybe with a useless attempt to concentrate on the Hunchback of Notredam through my AirPods. Thanking God and whoever made these inventions reach my ears to isolate me from the reality of the unavoidable noise that surrounds me. I walk with alertness, waiting for an expected disaster. I avoid looking into young people sitting in cars with smoking smells of hashish, and God knows what. I avoid looking into what is happening inside the vehicles of a future generation busy gazing at screens and meditating in their cars. Right in front of my eyes, less than a meter away from where I was walking, a sudden break of a car invaded the quietness of a passing moment, and boom … two cars hit. I am not sure the vehicle that hit was speeding. The car was hit suddenly decided to take a stop on the right side of the street. Sometimes I think if this is becoming a boulevard. Suppose these young men have a view in front of them that I am missing in this block of our street. Parking on the pavement doing nothing but sit and smoke and play with their mobiles.
Anyway, the car that was about to stop was hit, and in an instant, two young men jumped over the other car without even trying to check what happened and attacked the man in the other vehicle. They took his mobile and the key vehicle to make sure he would not run away. It was a bewildering scene. The car is actually in the middle of the street while other cars may pump into it suddenly in a main busy road. The man of the vehicle quickly jumped out in another attacking gesture and started to make calls.
In minutes motorcycles were roaring in the scene. Young men from all directions were gathering. And I was there standing still in the same mode, nobody seeing me—nobody bothering to this nobody existence in the middle of the scene. Usually, in once upon a past, the presence of a woman would have made them ease down. A mother’s like a woman I this sense. They were only seeing their anger raging in fumes. I called the police. A new hobby I have been developing ever since I started those walks. This time I was not complaining about a roaring car racing in the street. It was an accident before my eyes. The men gathered and left. More men came and went. The fight was about to explode. Some eased out the situation. I called the police again. After forty minutes, the police called again, asking if people were hitting one another!
The first attempt of calling the police was to an Arab police officer I knew. The first thing he said: you know this is the culture.
This is not the first time I am hearing this. It is the culture—the build-in culture of violence among Arabs.
I have to say I couldn’t say much. It is not a place where I need to hold a defense ot the great Arab culture or the peacefulness that is at slumber inside us. I do blame this system, and in this case, the Israeli system systematically nourishes violence. The typical absence of law and order is the same in Kufur Aqab and other places. It is the same absence of the rule of law in Hebron, in Nablus, in Jenin.
How come the rule of law is absent in Jerusalem when Israel is supposed to be ruling?
One would think it should be, as the (Arab) Israeli police officers keep repeating to me that it is the culture; you cannot do anything about it. But it is not. It is the systemic absence of the rule of law.
When the police are only there when the disaster happens knowing that a catastrophe is unavoidable when people are allowed to double park, to drive and park on pedestrian pavements, when they allow cars to race in a street that its speed limit does not exceed 50, when traffic lights should be increased when pedestrian spaces should be with lights and pumps.
When the police make oppressive fines while they leave, those who should be fined getaway.
Discipline and respect to the public spaces are not built-in cultures. It is habitual. It is a service. It is relational.
It is Fawda as designed in the Netflix show.
Live streaming of a Fawda that reflects an invented reality. A reality that becomes the truth we know about ourselves: embedded culture of violence.
Each time I call the police in the 100 number assigned for the public, I know that my complaint will not comply. I do admit that I want to prove to myself each time that this system is not here to serve me as a Palestinian, no matter how I try to adapt to it. No matter how I tried to convince myself that, this system is much better, more compatible, efficient than the Palestinian system a few miles away. It is a system designed to make Israelis live better and by all means to keep Palestinians in a continuous unbearable state of Fawda.