The growing divide

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, August 4:

`Tonight you should not be a journalist, tonight you should be a poet,` says our host Jamal Zbeidi, as soon as we arrive. It`s early evening, and a dull dusky light enveloped the homes in the camp, while a pleasant breeze caressed the faces of the children playing outside. The Jenin refugee camp is getting ready for the night. The television is tuned to Al-Aqsa, the Hamas station in Gaza. Into the house strides our old acquaintance, Zakariya Zbeidi. He had seen our car and wants to say hello. Wearing a Kenvelo T-shirt, and for the first time walking around without a weapon, he is on his way to the Muqata in Ramallah, where he spends his nights, according to an arrangement worked out with Israel. Now he is a student, majoring in social work.

The old ceiling fan has slightly cooled the room, whose walls are covered with photographs of martyrs. Not long ago, the Lebanese writer Elias Khoury sent Zbeidi an e-mail, imploring him not to align himself with either Hamas or Fatah. `The people here are confused,` Zbeidi`s uncle, Jamal, says. `To go with [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Abu Mazen is to go with America, and to go with Hamas is to go with religion. Both are bad.`

I seem to be the only one who is nervous about the oncoming night. A poetic mood descends on those present: `We sowed and others will reap,` Zakariya says in a melancholy tone.

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