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July 2004
Diary of an artist in Bethlehem
Palestinian workers builing the 'security wall" - Paul Gent.
Workers building the 'security wall' at Gilo checkpoint (between Bethlehem and Jerusalem - Paul Gent.
Leicestershire artist Paul Gent is spending the summer in Palestine working with families whilst creating some stunning art - read his diary.
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Paul Gent is an artist from Leicestershire who has travelled to Palestine to work with families and children

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Thursday 24 June

Started work on mosaic on the outside wall of the SOS village. Luckily workers are smashing down the toilets in the reception building so we have plenty of broken tiles to get started.

Each day it appears I am to join different families for dinner and work with their children. While pasting on broken tiles, twelve-year-old Samir asked me if I liked George Bush and Tony Blair.

Speaking in a mixture of pigeon Arabic and English, I found it easier to mimic shooting them against the wall, although I despise all kinds of violence.

He then asked me if I liked Hamas. (Samir's parents were killed in Jenin and four members of his family are in Hamas). Finding it difficult to explain my views on armed resistance, with the language barrier, I said that I like peace.

I felt much more comfortable when our conversation progressed to the merits of Bruce Lee, Hulk Hogan and Rambo.

It is very hard to get much work done here, not because of any lack of enthusiasm from the children, but because the families keep inviting me to dinner and drinks, which is always a tempting break from working in the hot sun.

Evening: Portugal beat England and I don't care, but my Palestinian hosts who are following every move of the Euro 2004 as much as everybody else, are constantly giving me attention.

Our fans reputation for violence almost competes with the problems here, it seems. I am glad not to be in Loughborough town centre tonight.

Paul Gent

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