Winter Wonder(holy)land

By Flora Mory

You would think a trip to the Middle East in the middle of the winter would be a valiant attempt to escape the biting cold of Northern Europe. I, and the summer wardrobe I brought to Jerusalem, was proven bitterly wrong. While slightly disappointed by the weather upon my arrival in the wet, winter land, snow on the golden roof of the Dome of the Rock was a priceless image and the euphoria of the Palestinian youth about the snow was an even greater experience. We all get very excited about the first snowfall of the winter season, regardless of where we are from. Nevertheless, the general feeling about the snow in the West Bank reminded me of my first memory of a snowfall: pure joy.

Despite the beauty of the white layer, it does not cover up the Arab-Israel tensions in the Palestinian territory, as clashes between the shabab and Israeli settlers and soldiers continue. However, the snowballs were not the new rocks for a “third Intifada“ that Israeli populists like to talk about these days. Quite the contrary was the case in the streets of the West Bank, where you could spot friendly and peaceful snowmen. But be aware: just as many things in Palestine run different than elsewhere, the Palestinian snowmen are quite particular. Their eyes are made of dates, on its head sits a hat with the flag of Palestine instead of the usual casserole and around it’s neck, a black-and-white keffyeh, a national symbol of Palestine.

Although these scenes are all cheerful, the snow in the MENA has, undoubtedly, a bitter taste. After all, this unusual whether (another example is snow in Saudi Arabian desert) is another indicator of the progressing climate change. Further, such unusual weather has had devastating effects on areas that do not have the structures to handle such situations. The public transport, that is a crucial mean of mobility for many Palestinians, was dead for a few consecutive days. Yes it is true, also the US capital, Washington D.C, which should have sufficient funds to invest in the right infrastructure, is completely paralyzed during so-called snow days. However, unlike in the Western world, the lack of means and structures for this unusual weather in the MENA has lead to at least 11 people being killed and has made life very difficult for people in refugee camps and remote areas.

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