Parting Thoughts of Israel

November 20, 2009 - 5:09 pm 1 Comment

Been back home a couple of weeks now, and I’m finally recovered from the exhausting trip to Israel. I’ve adjusted back to local time, I’m caught up on my sleep, and all of the hummus and falafel has made its way out of my system.

The three of us saw about as much of Israel as you can see in ten days, I think. We were always on the go, praying that the GPS would take us to the right place and doing our best with Jerusalem traffic.

One of the amazing things about Jerusalem is that it marks the physical and spiritual intersection of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people. The more I saw, the more interested I became in Jerusalem’s history. The contrast between glorious mosques and churches to the completely plain Jewish holy sites was fascinating. Judaism seems to be, by far, the most modest world religion.

But despite the close proximity of these religions in Jerusalem, heavy security prevents open integration. Non-Muslims do not visit Muslim holy sites. Dome of the Rock, the holiest site in the world for both Muslims and Jews, was inaccessible.

The social situation in Jerusalem is complicated. Arabs outside of the city are kept out by guys with guns and barbed wire and giant walls. Bethlehem, another place I wanted to visit, is just outside the city walls and off-limits. Inside Jerusalem, there are small pockets of Arabs communities, but for the most part, there is very little residential integration.

Segregation fosters intolerance, and for a surprising number of “educated” urbanites, there is an irrational hatred of Jews for Muslims or vice versa. At the same time, there seems to be peace and brotherhood among many of the commoners who work and live together. The issues are either obvious, complicated, or nonexistent, depending on who you talk to.

Most, if not all, of security in Israel seems to be for the protection of Jews and Jewish holy sites. In the city of three religions, it’s the Jews who are the targets. I felt a constant tension in Israel. But the suicide bombings and shootings are rare, and people seem to go about their daily lives without worrying about any of that stuff happening.

Israel is definitely a different kind of trip. There are beaches and clubs and drunk people, but it’s more of a cultural and educational experience.

Traveling with my Dad and Marion was about what I expected. I’m glad I went with them, and I’m not sure I ever would have gone to Israel with anyone else. Other than trying to keep up with them at lunch and dinner (they eat a lot) and my Dad cupping his balls on the way to the bathroom at 3am, there were no issues. I’d take another trip with them for sure, but maybe something a little less physical. This trip pushed them to the limit, I think.

So onto my next trip… Rio for New Year’s! Just bought tickets for a three-week trip to Brazil and Argentina with Doug.

I’m starting to feel a bit guilty. I can’t believe how much traveling I’ve been able to squeeze into the 18 months:

Peru – 10 days
Bahamas – 1 week
South Beach – 3 days
Thailand/Laos/Cambodia – 3 weeks
Ireland – 6 days
Vegas – 4 days

Maybe Iceland and Spain in 2010. 🙂

No Regrets!

    One Response to “Parting Thoughts of Israel”

  1. ilan Dray Says:

    Great Job man … Chapeau 🙂

    Shalom from Tel Aviv …
    Check out our website … we are spec in UI & Design for web & mobile …
    so may interest you 🙂


Leave a Reply