Obamarama

By Miri -

Tel Aviv is frequently referred to as "the bubble", and rarely anything seems to be able to affect its integrity, its sense of an ideal world. Not even a visit by President Obama.
Except for the indifferent Tel Avivians everybody else in the region seems to have gotten excited quite a bit by the President's short visit. Despite the authorities' efforts to keep the situation calm and potential trouble makers silent, a big variety of groups of Palestinians and Israeli Jews mobilised to make their voices and demands to the powerful man heard and seen, if not by the man himself, then at least by their surroundings.

Prologue

Already during the days ahead of his visit, many groups and lobbyists went out and prepared the President's welcome.

The official Israeli logo for the visit, adorning the streets of Jerusalem
The unofficial Palestinian logo, adorning the streets of Ramallah: "President Obama, don't bring your smart phone to Ramallah, you won't have mobile access to Internet. We have no 3G in Palestine!"  
The Free Jonathan Pollard lobbyists relaunch their campaign ahead of the visit. Pollard is an American Jew convicted for spying for Israel and serving a life sentence in the U.S.  



Graffiti in Ramallah, March 21st, Photo: Keren Manor/ActiveStills.org

The Drama Begins - Obama Visits Jerusalem

Many came out to the streets, not so much to see or to hear, but rather to be seen and to be heard.

The ultra-Orthodox and anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta went out on a protest asking the President to "exert his influence to help Orthodox Jewry of the Holy Land and thus to save hundreds of thousands of Jews subjugated under the evils and iniquities of Zionism, which is uprooting religion in general, and forcing enlistment in the army in particular"
Greenpeace activists hang a banner from Jerusalem's 119 metre high "Bridge of Strings"

Obama's speech in front of Israeli students is interrupted by Palestinian activist Rabea Eid, who asks the President whether he really came to promote the peace process or to provide Israel with more weapons to kill the Palestinian people?"

Meanwhile on a Roof Top in Tel Aviv

Okay, not everybody in Tel Aviv is completely indifferent to the visit.
Jewish Israeli activists send a message from next to the U.S. embassy building in Tel Aviv, Photo: Keren Manor/ActiveStills.org

The Drama Unfolds - Obama Visits the West Bank

Obama's visit to the West Bank was significantly shorter and mainly included a visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Let's see how he was welcomed there.

Palestinian police block protesters from approaching the PA headquarters in Ramallah, Keren Manor/ActiveStills.org
Palestinian activists errect another protest village “Ahfad Younis” outside of Jerusalem. Their protest comes in response to Obama's comment that preconditions to peace talks, including a settlement freeze, would just delay the negotiations: “Let’s not put the cart before the horse. If the only way to even begin the conversations is that we get everything right at the outset … then we’re never going to get to the broader issue.”
Palestinian activists protest in Deheishe refugee camp against Obama's visit to Bethlehem, West Bank, March 22, 2013. Many streets in Bethlehem had been closed off since the morning. The President's visit only lasts about 30 minutes. Anne Paq/Activestills.org

Epilogue - Time to Remove the Flags



The president leaves the Holy Land and "peace" is reestablished. The protest village "Ahfad Younis" has already been dismantled by the Israeli army, the Greenpeace activists were arrested and Rabea Eid was removed by security from the hall. Whether Obama's plan to speak and listen to the Israeli people and their neighbours was realised remains highly questionable, yet hope springs eternal...



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