Saturday, December 13, 2008
The first thing that captures your eyes, after two years away, is a visual quiet. Gone are the flags of every color (including green) that once flew everywhere; the billboards commemorating shaheeds with their weapons, new ones popping up nearly every day; the large banners emblazoned with slogans. Yes, here and there you still come across a tattered flag or faded sign, old graffiti on the walls, or a smiling Arafat beaming down from a giant poster that no one took the trouble to remove, the colors dulled by time. But the loud, aggressive, competitive profusion that was frequently replenished is all gone. Pictures of government officials in Gaza don't impose upon you, they don't hang on every corner. Instead, one notices bougainvillea, tree-lined avenues, wrought-iron gates, colorful head coverings. The Hamas government doesn't need external symbols to prove its strength and announce its presence. The conclusion is obvious as it is.