For those who missed the news, yesterday, Jerusalem awoke to a snow-covered city coated in white.
Jerusalem receives snow fall at most about once a year. During the seven years I have been living in the city, we have received three major snow events, including one last year.
For the most part, however, Jerusalem winters are just more benign versions of the winters I grew up with in Ireland: Relatively temperate affairs marred by periodic drenching downpours and the odd storm (although it must be pointed out that Irish infrastructure seems substantially more resilient to the effects of rainfall than its Middle Eastern counterpart).
Like many snow-obsessed Jerusalem residents, I spent much of Tuesday glued to social media receiving obscure updates about isobars and declining conditions in the upper atmosphere that heralded the imminent arrival of snowfall (for this entertainment I turned to Jerusalem Weather Forecasts — an excellent amateur weather buff’s pet project replete with detailed explanations that went far above my pay grade).
Just as predicted, around 19:00 IST the first signs of snow began to fall over the city. As before, social media got there before the news did — I received the first hopeful updates about snow sighting in Jerusalem’s more elevated northerly neighborhoods and soon enough it had reached us in the city’s South.
Thoughts then turned to how I could postpone as many business meetings as possible the next day so that I could frolic around outside hurling snowballs, like other fully grown adults with bills to pay.
Then to where my gloves were. And finally to whether my camera had charge so that I could shoot some videos for my YouTube channel (mandatory plug — here’s the link — I shot some videos of the snow in Baka).
Between ventures outsides and reluctant meetings I posted some of my own photographs to social media and marveled at others’ — sighting beautiful snowfalls in places of the capital that I didn’t have time to reach (as expected, the snow only clung to the ground for one day. Given the already short winter days here, I, like many, felt a vaguely stressful urge to spend as much time as possible in the snow before it melted or night fell!).
And there, the first signs of ugly political point-scoring were evident.
Although most of my few Twitter followers would, by now, probably consider me a through-and-through leftie (Hebrew: smolani; I rue how the word has devolved into a semi-insult in Hebrew), I lay the blame for this unnecessary bout of aggravation squarely at the door of our neighbors in East Jerusalem.
In an attack method that was as resourceful as it was sickly abhorrent, Palestinians apparently took to throwing disguised snowballs — containing rocks — at random Jewish bystanders and police. Terror snowballs — quite literally.
In an attempt to take advantage of the inclement weather and the relative chaos it brought to the city, Palestinians began rioting in A-Tur and elsewhere in Jerusalem.
The narrative was quickly — and again, this is as clever as it is perverse — twisted to the fiction that Israeli police had cruelly prevented Palestinians from playing in the snow.
The complete and utter lie (the arrests were in response to rioting) was quickly and predictably swallowed up by partisans on social media — Israel once more portrayed baselessly as the inhumane and sadistic villain in the familiar script that dictates how the conflict here is viewed in the West.
Later, beautiful photographs of everywhere in Jerusalem decked out in snow were tweeted. While the hasbara world apparently missed the gawking opportunity to shove in a bit of sloganeering about snow now being visible in Israel’s eternal capital (or something to that effect), the opportunity was not lost on the Palestinians.
They enthusiastically tweeted how the “occupied Old City” was now blanketed in snow — while reminding that over in A-Tur those nasty IDF soldiers had cruelly arrested them while trying to have a good old snowfight (just kindly ignore the fact that those snowballs contained rocks intended for lobbying at passers-by and that when police arrived at the scene they were met with stone-throwing and assailants wielding baseball bats.)
Can’t we just put our differences aside and enjoy a rare day of fun together in the snow?
In Jerusalem, as we learned yesterday, the answer is apparently, sadly, a resolute “no.”