For me, a high point of our trip was the visit to Israel – and our stay in Jerusalem at the David Citadel Hotel which overlooks old Jerusalem. So much to see and do that Donna and I concluded one could not experience (if not “see”) everything in less than a week or ten days. We floated in the Dead Sea, visited Masada, collected water from the Jordan River and wound our way through the security of the West Bank into Bethlehem. And of course there was Jerusalem . . . .
We learned a bit of Israel that you don’t read about in the news. The population of Israel is about 7 million. Of that 21% is Arab and 4% Christian. The Jews and Arabs (who are Israeli) apparently get along okay even though most of the Arabs are related to the Palestinian contingent in the Occupied Territories (there is no “Palestine”). Arabs are allowed – but not required – to serve in the Israeli army. The “Palestinians” (who were led by Yassir Arafat – an Egyptian) are not regarded favorably by any of the Middle Eastern countries. Hamas (Palestinian’s military wing) is committed to the destruction of Israel and inflicts its senseless violence. On Israel. And on its own people. The Palestinians have had numerous opportunities to resolve the issues with Israelis but either stupidity or stubbornness get in the way. The issues could have been resolved years ago. But as one of our cruise ship lecturers said, “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
An internal concern of most Israelis is the Haredim (ultra-orthodox) community which numbers 11% of the population. The men refuse to work given their perceived religious obligation to study the Torah. They also refuse to serve in the Army. Unlike Quakers and pacifists in America, Haredim will not even serve as medics. Because they refuse to work, they and their families live off the dole. More than half of the Haredim live below the poverty line. Thus there are the obvious political pressures from outside of Israel. But there are political tensions from within as well.
One thought on “Israel”
Hi Scottie – Judy and & went to Jordan and Israel in the fall of 2013 with a group from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, CO. The husband and wife pastors basically set up the tour. Gabi (he) is a Palistinian and grew up there., They also took there two children 3 & 7 with to see his family. What a trip! I was reluctant to go with the fighting in Syria at the time, but we encountered no problems. We visited basically the same things you did in Israel. Gabi’s family had us for a lunch in his home town of Eilaboun Village, a village where the horror stories were unbeliveable. During the ’67 war, the Israeli’s came to town and slecte 17 young men at random and executed 12 of them. The villlage was given about 20 minutes to gather belongings and leave for Lebanon walking over the Golan Hights mountains. After the UN settlement, it was an unusual situation in that the town was given back to Palestinians. Tiberias where many of his relatives lived before the war did not get their homes back. Gabi’s father, age 5< and his family were among those forced to migrate.
Interestingly enough Christians and Muslems live in harmony here and also in Bethleham. The building of villages by the Jews on land granted to the Palistinians and supported by the US is a terrible thing. The walls will soon surround Bethleham. Many have fled Behleham who can which helps account for the number of Christians on the country.
The highlight for me was taking communion with this group on the Sea of Galilee and having lunch of a whole fish on the shore. Communion in such a setting was most moving.
The problems here are centuries old and don't seem to have any resolution. I pray that there might be a 2 state situation someday, but Israel feels it can't do that at this time…..