Following weeks of drama and hype, doomsday scenarios
and talk of possible riots on the day Abu Mazen spoke at the United Nations,
we had to go and see what was really happening.
Friday afternoon, September 23, 2011 in Jerusalem was no apocalypse.
Clashes may make the headlines, but on the real streets…
little children walked home from school,
couples were out on dates and many streets were quieter than usual.
The United States Consulate told its employees to stay away from the Old City
and many overseas year programs told their students to stay away as well.
However, dozen of buses of tourists from around the world arrived all afternoon,
a Kim Clement tour group brought 11 bus loads of Christian visitors
to the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Old City.
Meanwhile, a young woman sat with her little children in the Jewish Quarter
and little girls went by themselves for ice cream.
In the Arab shuk hundreds of people passed freely all afternoon.
There was no question that security precautions were higher than usual.
Did this tour group notice the ramp to the Temple Mount full of Israeli security
ready for trouble as the mid-day Muslim prayers ended?
But the number of Muslim worshipers passing thru the Jewish Quarter
was much less than on a regular Friday afternoon.
The season’s first rain clouds were gathering,
resulting in cooler temperatures and a few drops of rain!
Who could imagine that there would be more rain drops than protesters?
The police left, certainly relieved that there was nothing for them to do.
Silwan seemed quiet and still,
as security people went home and Shabbat guests arrived.
A Muslim woman walked by a small group that gathered
as Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch was ready to leave.
Israeli Police Chief Yochanan Danino was all smiles as he got in his car
and seemed not to mind saying a little prayer before he left.
Clashes with Israeli soldiers make headlines,
but on Friday afternoon in Jerusalem
the stores closed early for the Sabbath… not for riots.