Reading international headlines has made me so angry and sad.
Controversial and contentious
Bracing for violence
Israel braces for unrest ahead of right-wing Jerusalem march
Nationalist March Through Jerusalem Has Heightened Tensions Further
And those are only a few of the less disturbing headline choices for the annual Jerusalem Day – ריקודגלים Rikud Degalim – Flag Dance Parade which was postponed due to rocket attacks from Gaza.
This celebration goes back decades to remember the reunification of Jerusalem in June 1967. I walked with the Israeli flag wavers thru the Old City with the march five years ago.
Again this year, I went to see what was really happening. After days of negative hype and threats from Hamas and its affiliates, would there really be trouble and violence?
Thousands were on the streets waving Israeli flags – peacefully, though loudly at times singing, songs such as Am Yisrael Chai.
I only spotted one mask in the crowd of thousands.
But road blocks and photographers were seen throughout the route.
Waiting for the start time. Israeli time. It started later than announced.
However, the regular and foreign photographers were ready.
This was the scene on the way to Damascus Gate.
Where were all those close-up-in-your-face photos I have seen taken?
The police had large distances between the local Arab shopping area and those walking to Damascus Gate.
Plenty of Arab media was active and out on the Jerusalem streets.
The area at Damascus Gate was empty when the marchers arrived.
But filled with Israeli-flag waving, mostly young men singing and dancing.
Out of thousands, it was the one unusual one who got media attention.
Notice all the press standing on the other side of the large flag.
Here’s a short video from Damascus Gate, before moving on to Jaffa Gate.
Media reports came out as soon as possible. How accurate? You decide.
Not only wild young males participated, there were families and busloads of students, including girls who came from outside of Jerusalem.
The security was along the entire route. It seems earlier there were stones thrown at police on horses, so that would explain the eye protection, which was not needed for the Flag Parade.
I wondered how many walking realized that there were going thru what was No Man’s Land that divided Jerusalem from 1948-1967? On the right, the Old City where Jews could not go. On the left the hospital on the “border” in Jerusalem, not under Jordanian occupation.
MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party and Bezalel Smotrich head of the Religious Zionist party received media attention. However, in the crowd of marchers number two on the list Michal Woldiger was stopped multiple times for photos and by admirers.
Some Flag Parade participants joined at Jaffa Gate and did not do the walk.
The smoking and vaping is what I found upsetting.
Especially these young boys standing around and puffing away.
As the sun set, the march moved toward the Kotel, Western Wall.
The Arab market was closed and quiet, with security posted along the way.
These girls and a few press photographers in the Christian Quarter were hardly what the doomsayers predicted for the evening.
The crowd of thousands ended up at the Kotel, as usual for the end of the Flag Parade, to sing and dance, concluding with evening prayers.
More photos are presented here as a video.
Once again, I went to see what was really happening on the Jerusalem streets and missed finding trouble.
I thought the police were more polite than in the past. They honored my press pass immediately at every roadblock.
The displays of Israeli flags were impressive, plenty of blue and white.
The end of the day, it was time to go home and away from the noisy crowd.
The noisy protesters were gone from near the Prime Minister’s Residence. What a pleasure to walk undisturbed again on this Jerusalem street.