Editor's note: The normal Easter throng was missing in Jerusalem this year due to stringent Israeli security at border checkpoints and in the Old City. Separate celebrations of Easter were officially held in Bethlehem as well as the Old City, much to the dismay of local Palestinian Christians. Reporter Jonathan Miles visited several services in the Old City. Here is his account:
The time is Easter morning, 1920--76 years ago. The place is Jerusalem. And six Jews and six Arabs have been killed in the first bloodshed of the century's still unfinished struggle for Jerusalem. An officer finds the chief secretary of the British mandatory government in an Easter service pew at the Anglican Cathedral.
"Sir," he whispers, "you may be talking about peace on earth and goodwill to men in here, but down at the Jaffa Gate the Jews and the Arabs are beating bloody hell out of each other."
In 1996, it is the Jews trying to keep the peace in the Old City on Easter morning. Israeli police have closed the Jaffa Gate to traffic, so those coming to services enter the city on foot. At 7:30 a.m. the just-washed cobblestones of David Street glow golden under the risen sun. A police van wheels around the corner, the driver putting the last piece of a Passover matzo in his mouth.
Just inside the massive wooden doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, middle-aged women bend over and kiss the slab upon which the crucified body of Jesus is said to have been laid. They anoint the spot with perfumes, which they then dab on their foreheads with a handkerchief. Dozens of burning candles lit by pilgrims are sizzling in the darkened church.
ARMED PATROL: Outside, a hundred yards away, there is a heavily armed patrol of the Israeli border police. "The Muslims ...1
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