Its people live with an Israeli occupation, demoralizing unemployment, unhealthy poverty, clashing governing bodies, and the daily possibility that an American-made Hellfire missle might sear through the neighborhood. It's hard to imagine that life can be sweet in Palestine—especially considering that no such country exists.
But sweetness finds its way into the most acrid places on earth, as the Gaza Strip honey worker above can attest. The man holds a smoker used to calm bees in order to collect honey, which is perhaps one origination of the term "blowing smoke."
Tuesday's news from Egypt that the Hamas and Fatah political factions had signed a reconciliation agreement sparked small celebrations in the West Bank city of Ramallah and elsewhere. Fatah favors negotiating with Israel for a separate Palestinian state alongside its neighbor; Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Four years ago, Hamas and Fatah engaged in a week of bloody clashes, with Hamas taking the upper hand in Gaza.
Freshly reconciled Palestinians shared cups of tea Wednesday, sweatened with the nectar of the bee, but the mood is muted. Too much smoke has been blown for much clear-eyed optimism to survive.