Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jerusalem Waking Up


Old City, Jerusalem
Israeli soldier and locals in old city...

Good Morning, Folks.

So I was able to venture briefly and quickly (unfortunately, but thankfully) through the Old City of Jerusalem this morning. Luckily I did not get lost thanks to many warnings from others that it is easy to do in the maze of passages that make up the ancient area (Although at one point I did feel like I knew where I was and took a turn down a particular street thinking I could make it a short cut, only to be informed by a local that only Muslims could enter that way – and quite clearly I am not a Muslim… so I turned around and went the normal route.

The Old City is absolutely incredible and I WISH I had more time there but am so thankful for what I’ve been given despite the time crunch.  The dynamics of the population are fascinating – sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious – there are Palestinian Christians & Muslims, as well as Jewish Israelis living here; the Palestinians who lived here before have more legal status than those living in the West Bank – much more, but the oppression is still weird to observe… but I am still trying to understand it all. At times I’d witness Palestinians talking and even joking through the Christian quarter of the Old City, and at times I’d see the tension like night and day – whether through interactions between soldier and passerby, or in the way individuals walk on the street passing one another, or in the way the wire mesh has been placed in certain areas due to rocks and garbage been thrown by Israeli’s onto Palestinians from windows above the narrow streets (I’ll post a picture of that).

I got free Falafel… the man swore it’d be better than the one in Jericho and though I didn’t believe it could get any better… he was right – but maybe the fact that it was free made it a little more delicious than Jericho ;).

Then…I made it just in time to catch my bus from the conference group in Jerusalem and into Bethlehem where I am now in the hotel… My reaction as we drove past the wall for my first time was actually not what I expected…I thought I might be quite sad, or perhaps even almost apathetic because I’d seen its image so many times in pictures and films.  But actually I was instantly extremely angry – way more than I thought I’d be and it was almost shocking I didn’t know what to do with myself.  It was strange… but that’s not to say I haven’t felt anger when encountering human rights violations before – but this was different – perhaps because I’ve had so much build up to seeing it, I know so much of why it’s there, what it represents and yet so much I still don’t know or understand… so it was just strange.  Not sure what to make of that – but the anger I’ll definitely need to keep tabs on. Obviously anger can be good if it wakes us to the wrongs of the world – but if it’s not honed it can either turn really really ugly – or in the very least people won’t listen to what you have to say if you freak out.  I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve got a few hours to kill before the conference and there are still people arriving slowly so that’s why I am able to write a little before everything gets going.  I’ve been lucky thus far in being able to keep you in the loop… so let us hope that continues :)… gonna go check out the resource room for a bit…

Wish you were here,


Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall in the background,

It's my door thing, just can't get enough.
Shwarma :) Don't worry...I didn't eat the pita - just forked out the amazingness from the inside.
Old City, Christian Quarter
More OC
Wailing Wall - Men's side
WW - Women's side.

In the Old City. Palestinian shops and streets below and Israeli apartments above - this is the wire mesh I was talking about that they put up to guard from the stones and garbage that is thrown down from one neighbour against another.

Checkpoints into Bethlehem and the city as viewed from our hotel.

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