Yesterday I went to Ramallah to do some pre-Eid shopping with my daughter. I meant to take my camera, just in case, but of course I forgot it. The streets busy and full of shoppers, but one of the first things we noticed was that all of the traffic police were female. About a month ago, a new class of female police recruits graduated, after their EU provided training. My daughter thought they looked "cute" in their uniforms. They wore bright blue shirts, un-tucked, with wide black belts over them, black pants tucked into heavy boots and black berets. Some of them wore scarves under the berets, and others had long, loose hair. They seemed to be having a bit of trouble convincing some people that they actually had to wait to cross the road. Central Ramallah always seemed like a free-for-all to me, with people wandering through the traffic, so it looked like a step in the right direction. Then there was a parade, with dozens of school children waving flags and a marching band. After the parade the kids passed out little papers, explaining that in a civil society, people had respect for rules, and that the police were there to provide safety and order. It was kind of cute and funny at the same time.
I planned to come home and write about how unfamiliar a concept it seemed to be for Palestinians to wait in a straight orderly line, especially for the older women. I was in a pleasant mood and at peace with everything around me, wanting to poke a little fun at the society around me, but still loving it. The only problem was that I wanted a picture to go with my little story, so I thought I might find one online. I didn't find one of the local kids, so I thought I would look for one of the female police. The first one I found was on a blog that was ridiculing them. And the post had hundreds and hundreds of comments. Nearly all of them were painful to read, and I sat and read almost every one. I shouldn't have, it was ugly, but I just couldn't turn away. They attacked and defamed this culture and these people in every way they could. They confused aspects of other Arab and Islamic cultures, and reworked every ugly stereotype. There were even a few comments on how Palestinians were all married to their cousins and inbred, which hit a particular sore spot for me. They had a party trying to see who could be the nastiest and ugliest. I finally went to bed, sad and discouraged. I seriously can't understand how there can be so much hate in this world. It oozes all over the place and spoils every thing it touches.
So no pictures. And it was such a pretty, cheerful day.
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