RAMALLAH — Last Tuesday marked the first day of the Feast of the Sacrifice, the Eid al-Adha holiday. The streets of Ramallah had never been so empty at mid-day. Clock Square (which has been renamed Arafat Square) and Manara Square, usually the most bustling places in the city, were virtually deserted. Everyone was celebrating, moving from one house to the next, from one relative to another, visiting family members in other cities and villages. In the residential neighborhoods, groups of men could be seen visiting one house after another.
“That’s how it is here,” said B., a friend from a different Palestinian city. “So far today, I have visited 40 homes.”
All restaurants were closed, save a few that serve tourists or journalists with nothing better to do. The city had fallen into the deep slumber of the Feast of the Sacrifice and appeared relaxed and peaceful. Alongside the main road, just south of the al-Am’ari refugee camp, a butcher slaughtered one sheep after another, leaving behind piles of innards and rivulets of blood. At the entrance to al-Am’ari, not far away, a large billboard caught the eye. It called upon the public to protect the environment. The image on the poster depicted Palestinians cleaning the streets as jeeps bearing Stars of David pollute and contaminate the land.
Many of the Palestinians’ grievances against Israel for building in the settlements appear well-founded. Each Jewish home built outside of the large settlement blocs in the West Bank seems to reduce the likelihood of an evacuation and a two-state solution. But on the other hand, the support and admiration that the official Palestinian media expresses toward terrorists who organized suicide bombings or murdered children — such as the Fatah Facebook page, which consistently praises the murder of Israelis — does nothing to promote a better future for the two nations.
A poster, designed by the PA Ministry of Environmental Affairs, that explains to every child that the Jews contaminate Palestinian land, does little to encourage coexistence. It is no way to protect the environment, or to promote peace.