Saturday, July 5, 2008

Eventful Weekend

While still recovering from being digitally stolen a lot of money (still no sign of life from the Bank) I set out for another photography excursion in the Old City with the relief that the company was kind enough to pay me some of my first salary in advance and in cash.

I went as a proper tourist: with my camera a "gringo" looking shirt and a hat. The root this time was away from the tourist market zone: I began by the Christian quarter. This is the quietest quarter after the Armenian one. Hence not many pictures from it.

The Old city is surprising because some places seem pretty much run down and uninteresting from the street but if you know where to go you just need pass through a door or corridor to get to a wonderful building or garden. In other words you have to know where to go, which is not the case at present.

After the Christian Quarter there is the Muslim Quarter, it is different from the other ones because it is much busier and it is used by the Palestinians as a normal market place where you can find anything you want, the commerce is local, definitely not for tourists.

Obviously one stands out from the crowd there.

So while I am taking my pictures suddenly a boy, who must have been not more than twelve, passes by running and punches me in the "family jewellery" luckily his aim was not precise. Some guys saw it and had no reaction, neither to laugh at me nor to ask if I was OK. I just looked at the guy shredded my shoulders and went on my way.

In general one does not get hostility, but one can't say that they are friendly either, the immense majority just gets on with their life.

After the incident, I head on once again to the wailing wall, this time it is empty because it is not Sabbath yet, so I get more "attention" from the Orthodox people hanging around there. As I am giving my contribution for the maintenance of the site this Haredi starts begging me for money, disgraceful really... he is fat and keeps telling me in Hebrew that he needs to buy food for his family, I should have told him to bugger off but I didn't, he almost drags me to the front of the Wall does a dodgy prayer and then starts the begging again, I just had to give something to get him out of my face.

When I am leaving the site, this other Haredi approaches me this time it is not for begging he wants me to put on a Teffilin, I told him I had already done this earlier in the morning, the expectation of him to ask for a "contribution" is contradicted when he says his organization does not do this. But two minutes later another one approaches me, asks me where I am from, the next question is if I can give him a "contribution", with this one the courage to tell him to bugger off surfaced...

From there I head off to the Jewish quarter where I know there is a great burger place, on the way I see this Palestinian kid being carried down the street by some soldiers, he must have been a suspect of participating in some terrorist organization, if it were a criminal thing it would have been the police taking him. His face told that there was in deep trouble ahead. While it was shocking (I have seen similar scenes on Ipanema beach when they caught kids from the favelas stealing the rich people at the beach) I can understand that Israelis don't have many options regarding terror groups.

Please don't tell me that the solution is giving land back to the Palestinians. Israel withdrew from Gaza recently and after just a few weeks they "commemorated" their freedom by sending rockets. They are poor??? where does the money to buy these missiles come from???

The issue of terrorism is much more complex than land negotiations and Palestinian statehood, but discussing this is not the finality of this blog...

Anyways... after the delicious burger I sit down in the shade to relax and look at the pictures I had taken, this old woman comes up to begging for money, I said I had none (which was true) she gets into a fury and starts yelling at me in Hebrew, calling me "dreck" which means excrement, or shit if you will, she point at her heart saying she has heart and probably that I don't, I just tell her that I don't speak Hebrew and that I don't have any money. She probably thought I was Israeli and was putting on an act, some people nearby started laughing... what a day!!!

On Saturday we had a guided tour of (guess what....) the Old City, the guide was excellent, he has done a film about Jerusalem which I recommend:

After the tour I must have spent at least four hours organizing the house and putting things in to boxes. The good thing is that it is starting to become liveable in terms of having a family of three in the house, I am looking forward for my two "girls" to arrive. The decision of staying has been taken.

I will publish the new pictures very soon.


Joe said...

"Please don't tell me that the solution is giving land back to the Palestinians."

No... the solution is for us all to teach our children to look at the world through the lens of reason, not Iron Age superstitions. Children need to be taught that there is not an invisible magical man in the sky who goes around promising tracts of land to people like some sort of omnipotent estate agent. Maybe then they can rise above these unfounded disputes when they are adults.


Richard in the Holy Land said...

I absolutely agree that there is a lot of growing up to do in this part of the world.

About religion, I would just say that if a rich Estate Agent bought over the Old City and built, for example, luxury apartments where the Temple Mount is now this world would certainly be a much poorer place.

Anyways it is great to know that you are reading my blog,


Joe said...

Indeed it would be a much poorer place.

I have 100% respect and awe for the culture, art, literature and architecture of the ancient religions of Jerusalem. However, I have 0% respect for their superstitions and their childish belief in an invisible magical man in the sky.

I'm enjoying your blog immensely! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this journey!