An outtake from “Wanderlust,” which really belongs in my (unwritten) book about how public opinion gets made:
“I’m on top of the city wall, inside the parapet, looking down at the encampment. It’s a rectangle hemmed in by the backs of multi-story Muslim homes on the other three sides. The settlers have set up tents and cook stoves for their dinners. They have washbasins for their clothes.
Everyone turns up. The neighboring Palestinians are incensed; Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian legislator, comes by to make a statement. Israel’s archeological authority is not amused; it wants to get to the Roman mosaics underneath. The kids from the Israeli group Peace Now are here. The soldiers are here, looking steely and bored in olive green, to make sure no one kills anyone else.
The biggest faction of all is the media. I stand on the city wall in a long, jostling row. This sort of settler-Arab clash is a weekly, if not daily, occurrence, but this one is uniquely configured. With the top of the wall up here, and the settlers down here, it’s like an amphitheater. And the kids down there know that they’re in a play. They go about their business, getting dinner and polishing guns, never breaching the fourth wall. The eyes of the world are on them. Israeli newspapermen; cameramen from Fox and ABC; photographers from France and Japan. I scribble in my notepad and call in quotes. It’s like a wildly anticipated show on opening night.
They say that there are more journalists per capita residing in Jerusalem than anywhere else in the world. They come, in part, because this kind of thing happens right on your doorstep. You can travel into a warzone and be back on your garden terrace by supper.”