I rode towards the Wall with anticipation. I wasn’t sure what the guards would say to me, or whether they would let me in with my motorbike. I chose a quiet crossing, there were a few cars in front of me, as I approached I noticed the two Israeli guards weren’t paying much attention, which I thought was odd. I passed through the wall without stopping!
After a few hundred metres I stopped and instantly a man came over and said ‘welcome’. I then rode the short distance into Bethlehem. I pulled up outside what seemed to be the most important church in the city. Everyone smiled at me, men came over to talk, I felt very welcome. A policeman came over, as there were parking restrictions, I said is the motorbike ok here? He said ‘all ok’. I then walked across the square to get a coffee. He stayed with my bike for the couple of hours I was there.
I spoke to many people whilst there, young and old. Everyone wanted to engage and were happy to discuss their predicament. Some of the Palestinians I spoke to couldn’t cross the Wall, they felt imprisoned in the West Bank, which obviously was a massive restriction to them and caused much resentment towards the Israeli government.
I was curious why I wasn’t stopped at the Wall crossing so I got back on the bike and rode back into Israel. Again, at a different, busier crossing the guards didn’t pay me any attention. I had a bike which from the front couldn’t be recognised, big luggage bags and I was wearing a helmet. I was surprised, they couldn’t have known who was riding the bike! I was so surprised I rode out and back in again. It felt easier than getting out of the UK.
I then went to the wall (Palestinian side), I wanted to feel what it was like to be there. I pulled up and parked the bike.
The wall was full of graffiti, I spent time both looking at the graffiti and talking to Palestinians. Their stories were both emotional and often filled with anger towards the Israeli government. I didn’t realise my emotions would go into overdrive, I felt much compassion.
A shop next to the wall sold art materials for people to graffiti the wall. I spent a long time considering adding to the graffiti. I really wasn’t sure if I should or not, I knew exactly what I would say, but I wasn’t sure what adding graffiti would mean in a wider context. I mulled the idea over and eventually decided to add a mark! I felt it would show that I care, that they are not alone.