I spent the morning in East Jerusalem. Not long ago I met a fellow there - a Palestinian, of course - who seems a potential partner for a discussion I've been wanting to have for a number of years already, about the town we both live in.
I'm not going to name him yet, because although we've had a few meetings already, he and I have yet to define what it is we're doing, beyond telling each other stuff. (And showing). Give us a few weeks (each of us is busy with other things), and perhaps we'll reach an agreement about what we're up to.
I will however note a few quick impressions.
We visited a girls school, at which apparently all the girls and the staff were dressed in traditional clothing, the adults with their heads covered. Except for the principal, who was dressed in Western garb, spoke fluent Hebrew, and seems to have a shelf-full of academic degrees and qualifications from all sorts of institutions of higher learning on all sides of our conflict.
Set aside the strategic aspects of two nations clashing; there seems no dearth of things Israel does which can be interpreted, from the East Jerusalem perspective, as either malicious, or very idiotic. Of course, there are other explanations for the same things, too: it's a complicated story.
There's a UNRWA school over there. The story of UNRWA is quite odd, and I wrote a section about it in Right to Exist. The thing about UNRWA is that it exists to support Palestinian refugees: but the area I was in doesn't have any Palestinian refugees. On the contrary, it's an area populated by a number of clans who've been precisely there, where they are now, for something like 250 years. Apparently, back in the 1950s the Jordanians (or someone) convinced UNRWA to support the locals in the village they'd been living in for centuries, because it abutted on the border with Israel. Assuming my friend's story was correct - and the UNRWA school is certainly there - then the UNRWA story is even more bizarre than I thought.
At one point we drove past an elderly man with some bags. His job, I was told, is to collect bread. When the locals throw out their garbage, they separate the old bread from it, because bread cannot be treated as garbage. (This is true in some Jewish families, too, mostly ones from Arab societies). This elderly man has appointed himself, and is recognized by all, as the remover of cast-aside bread. He comes by regularly, collects the bread which is placed separately near the garbage bins, and makes use of it (to feed animals, apparently).