> Annals > 2010 > Mideast > Mideast
> Annals > 2010 > Mideast > Mideast
by ZweiBieren Israel, Jerusalem
and Selected Jesus Places
 Praying at the Western / Wailing Wall; the fence separates the sexes
Trans-Atlantic, Jerusalem, Northern Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea - November 6-13
Selected pictures from Israel
More pictures from Israel
Saturday, Nov. 6 — Fly to Europe
  Save old pix to CD so as to be able to clear camera cards. To bed at 4, arise 6:45. Finish packing. Taxi. PIT, JFK. No problems. Got to watch "Salt" finally. Great flick. The ending fairly screamed, "Look for the sequel." And why not.
Sunday, Nov. 7 — Vienna Airport, Plane to Tel Aviv, Bus to Jerusalem
  Vienna. Plane delayed. Not severe. Tel Aviv. Bus to Jerusalem. Our first sights of "the wall", which turns out to be a series of walls all over the place. Rather than walling off the Jewish settlements, they have chosen to wall up the Palestinian towns. Reasonable hotel. Slept not like a log--which is a living thing, but more like a rock.
Monday Nov. 8 — Israel Museum, Yad Vashem, Bethlehem
Model of Jerusalem in the second temple period
Model of old Jerusalem

AM: Israel Museum: Fabulous 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period; originally built for a hotel. The display for the Dead Sea Scrolls. Slightly interesting; it is difficult to make an interesting display for texts, especially ones that are indecipherable to all but a few.

PM: Yad Vashem, a holocaust (Shoah) museum. Lots of fine exhibits of life in the European ghettos; gruesome, wrenching exhibits of the camps. Too moved, I hurried on through.

Late in the aftrernoon was the optional trip to Bethlehem. We both went, but regreted it. To view the alleged manger, we stood in line for most of an hour and were then shooed through the exhibit in a matter of seconds; it was late so the guards probably wanted their suppers. The church is on top of a hill, which seems to me an improbable site for a stable. The tops of hills are everywhere the more expensive real estate. Our own Israeli guide is not allowed to visit Bethlehem, a town within one instance of the wall; they fear she would be kidnapped and held to be exchanged with imprisoned Palestinians. So we had a local guide, a Christian living there. Meeting him was almost worth the excursion. He described the restrictions imposed by the wall and took us to a (Christian) shop chock-a-block with the wall. According to him, the wall reduced the city by 35% and left only two parallel streets. He takes, he says, his son (1.5 yrs) for a ride and the kid reels off the names of the places they pass. He can, supposedly, because they are so few. (I failed to ask if the ride was in a car. Why have a car in such a small place?) According to one map the wall borders Bethlehem on the north, west, and south, but is open to the west bank dessert in the east.

Tuesday, Nov. 9 — Nazareth, north end of the Sea of Galilee

The guide book says "Full day excursion to Nazareth; Sea of Galilee; lunch at a kibbutz; Tabgha; Mount of Beatitudes; evening at leisure." I quote this because of the inherent conflict--full day versus evening leisure. The latter was not to be; we arrived back at the hotel at 9:30.

Some notes:
  • Much agriculture. Vegetables and fruits growing under tents.
  • Travelled many miles along wall instances. These did leave croplands inside for the Palestinians.
  • Galila, our guide, has a name derived from "Galilee"
  • She point out Tel Meggido, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Megiddo) supposedly the "armeggedon" in Revelations.
  • Nazareth appears to Archelogists to have had a population of about 80 in Jesus's time.
  • At Nazareth we visited the Church of the Annunciation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Annunciation) where Mary is supposed to have heard from the archAngel Gabriel of her childbirth.
  • There was no wooden furniture or houses. "Carpenter" meant something like handiman.
  • Kibbutzes no longer exist as communes. Tehy have divided up their property and are now wholly capitalist. Our lunch was served in a resort hotel owned by members of a kibbutz.
  • Capernum, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, was where Jesus spent his preaching years. It is at a major transport crossroads where he could have maximum impact.

Chapel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
Chapel by the
Sea of Galilee
The Capernum site has Peter's house and other interesting stuff. But I skipped it all. I took a right turn past the monk talking on his cell phone and visited the shore. There, for the first time, I felt some stirring of sentiment that Jesus had actually stood in this place. The chapel there is breathtakingly simple: a cross, two rocks for an altar, and planks on stumps for pews.

Nearby was the hillside for the Sermon on the Mount. Nice chapel on top. Nice view of the Sea. The Sea supplies all the drinking water for Israel and Jordan. Its level is receding rapidly. Water wars are in our future. They will be worse than oil wars.

After the site visits we took a boat from the northeast corner of the Sea to Tiberias on the western shore. It was then dinner time, but Galila claimed there were no decent places to eat in that city. It is under control of some ultra-orthodox Israelis and has been allowed to decay.
(Later she told us that the ultra-orthodox schools teach only the Torah, but the government is beginning to insist they actually incorporate some worldy instruction as well. Like, say, reading 'riting and 'rithmetic.)

On the way home Galila pointed at some condos with few lights lit. For tomorrow she said.

Wednesday, Nov. 10 — Jerusalem and the Old City

Jerusalem. AM: Bus to Mt. Scopus. Overlooking a Palestinian settlement, and beyond it an Israeli one. Galila described a plan to circumvent future partition of Jerusalem by surrounding it with successive rings alternating Israeli and Plaestinian settlements. Then she pointed out that the condos in the Palestinian settlement were the ones she showed us the night before as still being dark. The Palestinians have bought these homes, but remain in their present homes in Jerusalem because of benefits monetary, educational, and medical. The Palestinian authorities do not provide such benefits. Mostly, she claims the authorities steal any money that happens to float nearby.

In contrast to the rings theory of city integrity, there are plans for Jerusalem to annex the Israeli settlement beyond the Palestinian one. To void also incorporating the Palestinians, the annexation will include a long neck leading northward from the outer settlement to a place 40 km north where it can connect with the existing city limnits without crossing Palestinian land.

Like Washington, DC, Jerusalem has building height limits so as not to outshine the old city (and its highlight, the Domne of the Rock mosque). Galila claims this also stifles Arab growth because they have the tradition of builiding upper stories on their homes to accomodate the families of sons. The condos in the Palestinain settlement, being outside Jerusalem have no such limits.

So finally we got off Mt. Scopus, driving through the Hebrew University, a world class institution. Destination: Mount of Olives. Overlook of the old city. Seemed hillier than the model we saw two days earlier. Some of us walked down the Mount along the Via Dolorosa; steep, but pleasant. Garden of Gethsemene at the bottom. Olive trees in the garden looked old enough to date from Jesus's time, but Galila told us the age estimate is "only" about a thousand years. Old olive trees develop holes in their trunks. Dramatic. Nice enough chapel in the Garden, but quite modern. It has a rock where Jesus might have sat. Aroused not a whiff of sentiment in my heart.

Why duid Jesus stop in the Garden of Gethsemene? It was a sabbath and the Lord and Disciples had had a sabboth supper in an upper room south of the old city. On the sabboth, a Jew is forbidden to work, and an steps beyond two thousand are deemed to be work. The Garden is 2000 steps from the Upper Room!

Back to the bus and on to the Old City. Enter at the Jaffa Gate and visit the Tower of David Museum. Much history. Continuous toing-and-froing of the Management of the city. Nobody remains in sway for more than a half a millenium or so. Much tearing down and rebuilding. Basement stones remain of the original walls and temple, but little else. Most builds are little more than a century old. After the Tower we walked through the shopp-stall alleys. At some points excavations revealed the ancient foundations some twentyy-seven meters below. Toward evening we progressed to the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall. Men and women separately. Many supplicants read Torah in front of the wall. A whole pile of lecterns were available for them.

Right in the middle of the Wailing Wall is a covered gangway leading up to a hole in the wall providing access to a holy place within. Pilgrims await entry standing on the gangway, possibly like Christians on line to see the Manger in Bethlehem; but no one was using it when we visited. The Muslims complained when it was built that it spoiled the facade. Possible religious issues aside, the Muslims were right. It is ugly.

Thursday, Nov. 11 — Tel Aviv & Jaffa; library at Hebrew University
scattering in a solid
"Rayleigh scattering in glass:
it appears blue from the side
but orange light shines through."
Optional trip to Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Having reached my fill of seeing things several days before, I opted out. Instead I visited Hebrew University and researched Rayleigh scattering. It turns out that Rayleigh was right about the degree of scattering based on wavelength, but had mo clue as to why it happened that way. I saw very few yarmulkas on male students and no scarves on female students. Two females were busy adoring weach other on the lawn.
Friday, Nov. 12 — Revisit the Old City

S and I visited the old city again. While there an enormous flow of Muslims was leaving after services and rushing out to get home in time for the Sabbath. Crossing their path at the Via Dolorosa was an ocassionally heavy stream of pilgrims visiting the Stations of the Cross. We visited the Church of Our Lady of the Spasm, Station 4 of the Cross. Very modern and pretty.
S bought a tile at Jerusalem Pottery.

In the evening we shared a sabbath meal with our guide.

Saturday, Nov. 13 — Masada, Qumran, Dead Sea

Masada is where a last remnant group of Jews held off the Romans for three years. Finally the Romans built a huge pile of sand and threatened to break in the next day. The Jews slaughtered each other rather than submit to slavery.

Lunch at Qumran, the site of the Dead Sea scrolls initial discovery. Ancient ruins had huge cisterns so the brethren could live there despite it being in a dessert.

The Dead Sea resort was muddy. I declined to swim. S did and tried the mud, which was good mostly, but stang her face. And she had trouble getting out of the water to get to the showers to wash off the mud.

Copyright © 2011 ZweiBieren, All rights reserved. Apr 11, 2011 13:00 GMT Page maintained by ZweiBieren