Israel – Part 8

More about the conference Christ at the Checkpoint 4, with its subtitle “The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism.”

One afternoon we had bus excursions to East Jerusalem to learn more about the situation of life in Jerusalem and the West Bank. There are actually three Jerusalems – West Jerusalem, with mostly Jewish residents and nice homes and adequate services; Old City, with a surrounding wall built in the days of the Crusaders, and narrow streets, many shops and many holy sites such as the Western Wall and the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock; and East Jerusalem, intended to be part of the West Bank but officially annexed by Israel to be part of the State of Israel, and lacking in many services such as water, streets and quality schools.

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Our tour guide is an Israeli Jew who was previously part of the army and helped to destroy Palestinians’ homes but who now sees things differently and is part of Green Olive, a cooperative venture of Israelis and Palestinians that seeks to show the reality of life today in the occupied territories.

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We went to Mount Scopus, northeast of the Old City. Here we are looking east. The Jordan River Valley is somewhere beyond the horizon.

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This is a closer view, showing a Palestinian town in the West Bank and, scarcely visible on the horizon, Israeli settlements planted in the West Bank, despite the fact that international law says it is illegal to put settlements in military occupied territory.

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And here, still on Mount Scopus, is the view southwest toward the Old City. It was a hazy day, but if you look carefully, you can see the gold roof of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

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We have now moved to a different location and are looking at the separation barrier and, on the left, refugee dwellings where Palestinians live. This is a view looking to the right.

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And here is a view looking to the left, down a valley. Our guide said that although the houses look normal, they are substandard and receive limited services. He said the people who live here are the poorest of the poor, while the Israelis in West Jerusalem have good streets, reliable utilities and excellent schools.

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Looking straight ahead, we saw boys who had entertained themselves by climbing up onto the barrier, a wall three times the height of the Berlin Wall.

 

 

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