As terrible as the Intifada was, life had drama, and the social scene was kicking.
Almost four years since the beginning of the current Intifada, most papers in Israel are cautiously announcing its end. Shin Bet chief Avi Dicher is saying we are reaching the bottom of the barrel of Palestinian terror, and even Zakariya Zubeidi, leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigade, has the balls to admit the whole thing was pretty much a failure.
Indeed, in 2002, the year I came here, there were 46 successful suicide attacks in Israel. In 2003 there were 18, so far this year there have been 4, and none since we killed Yassin and Rantisi in March and April, respectively. Nonetheless, it is important to note, that this has not been for their lack of trying; there were 22 attempted attacks just this June.
When I first moved to Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda was a ghost town. Shops were closing because of lack of business. Now every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, Hutzot haIr in downtown Jerusalem is packed and the “Big Discount for Brave Tourist” signs in store windows are no longer so relevant. Someone should throw a party. But alas, that is the problem.
While you saw the destruction, pain and terror throughout the Intifada on TV, what the cameras missed was the joy and music and Life with a capital L happening elsewhere.
When I came to Israel, at the height of the Intifada, I was swept up into this amazing community of young, single, hippy-religious, Zionistic people, who at some point were as crazy as I was to have moved here on their own. Despite stickers around town prompting us to Screw Fear, Party Jerusalem 2002, the truth was, people didn’t really go out all that much, and there was this mentality of avoiding crowded public places. So instead, we were always having our own parties and making Shabbats together. There were drum circles at people’s houses where Ashara would start free-style rapping about peace and love. Talk was existential and we believed in the revolution. Every holiday there were half a dozen places to be. We congregated on the Moshav and sang our hearts out at Ezras in the Old City. And there was the infamous Purim Party of 2003 (complete with several spontaneous verses of The Post Purim Pre War Blues). The Chevre, as we call it, was alive and well, spreading the joy to Am Yisrael.
Now, Jerusalem is waking up from four years of slumber. There are things to do and we can go out in relatively certain security. And because of it, the Chevre has gotten lazy. Nobody plans anything anymore. And while I feel terrible saying it, I’m starting to miss the “good ole days.”