Monday, April 25 2011
A bus full of Palestinian Christians meet at Jaffa street in Ramallah to go to Jaffa near Tel Aviv to take part of the Easter festival.
Many are from Jaffa or have family there. And Jaffa is only a one hour drive from Ramallah, but for the families on the bus its a well planned out expetition.
“Many of these people go only once a year – only once they’ll have the permission,” says Sam, a Christian Palestinian who was born in Jaffa and is fortunate to have an Israeli ID.
The extra restrictions on who can cross the check points during Passover (nine days of closed borders!!) make it impossible for the majority to visit the churches in Jerusalem (though only 15 km away) where other Christians from the rest of the world flood the streets of the holy city to to mourn the sacrificial crucifixion of Jesus.
To leave Palestine for Easter the Palestinian Chrstians need a permission – a permission which is only achieved by applying through the church by providing ID and showing a clean file, which means never having been arrested – a pretty hard requirement to live up to in Palestine.
In Jaffa scouts march through the streets playing the tunes of ‘Go West’ (the symbolism is just too obvious). Everyone gathers at St. George’s Orthodox Church which is buzzing with the voices and laughter of hundreds of people, and looks more like a giant garden party than a religious ceremony – not least because of the many girls wearing cocktail dresses and a vast amount of makeup.
After a long day of sun and Easter celebration, the bus leaves Tel Aviv at eight. The kids – high on adrenalin (and maybe sugar) – are singing and playing and looking at pictures on a digitil camera. Maybe they look at pictures of the friends and family members who they have visited today and might not see until next year – and only then if it is possible to get the right permission slip.