A Travellerspoint blog

Neighborhood Pressures

Tour buses in famous cities: We've all seen them, and in a few cases we've taken them. This morning after church, Yuval took us through three neighborhoods: Sheikh Jarrah, where Arab families have been evicted in favor of Jewish settlers; French Hill, where he grew up; and an ultra-orthodox neighborhood in West Jerusalem.

There are excellent and thorough entries on Sheikh Jarrah, and Silwan, along with a good summary of Yuval's comments on the settler movement in holylandpilgrimage2013.wordpress.com. The group blog also has a nice report on the service at St. George's with which we started our day. I will make one correction though. The entry on Silwan begins with a photo of a guard house with Israeli flag. I am pretty sure this guardhouse was in fact on the roof of one of the three houses in Sheikh Jarrah.

I am most grateful to my fellow pilgrim Peter Hawley, who takes copious notes at all our stops and then posts wonderful, thorough accounts of them, saving me much time. (If I were not an insomniac, I would not be able to do this at all--our schedule is so full.) Not only am I a lousy note taker, I have really wanted to simply absorb all these experiences. Somehow I hope that, despite my notoriously awful memory, I will retain enough to record when there is time. So far this is working, helped greatly by Peter and other attentive travelers.

After a fabulous lunch of felafel or shawarma sandwiches--I chose felafel--Faraj took us to Silwan, a neighborhood on a steep hill just outside the walls of the Old City to explain the issues underlying Israeli efforts to take over a historic Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. I have little to add to Peter's account except to tell the story of how Faraj arranged our visit to our rooftop vantage point: We had assumed that he was acquainted with this family. But no. Evidently Faraj saw from the street that this house had a good rooftop terrace. So he rang the bell and explained that he was leading an American group. He asked if we could please come up to their roof. As indicated in the other blog, the man asked about the point of such a visit. And Faraj told him that we were seeking to understand the conflict in the area, and in his neighborhood in particular. And not only were we welcomed, but we had water and juice passed around by the charming children. It seems to me that every Palestinian family has a fridge stocked with water and juice to offer to whoever drops by. A welcome contrast to all the contemplation of tension and confrontation was the conclusion of the day at the Garden of Gethsemane. In the true spirit of the Franciscans who maintain it, it is a lovely contemplative grove of olive trees. Another correction is in order--the trees definitely do not date back to the time of Christ. But they are well over 1000 years old, and Gethsemane gets his name from the olive trees and presses that were there in biblical times. In the garden is the quite beautiful Church of All Nations, staffed by the friars. Not surprisingly, there are several different postings on the Garden of Gethsemane in the group blog.

A full day. The return to a delicious dinner preceded by a convivial cocktail hour was much welcomed.

Guard house in Sheikh Jarrah

Guard house in Sheikh Jarrah


Walls of Old City from Silwan roof

Walls of Old City from Silwan roof


Garden of Gethsemani

Garden of Gethsemani

Posted by mlld3536 17:00 Archived in Israel

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