This is our fourth night in Jerusalem. My mom has joined us and Becky is leaving us tomorrow for Jenin. We spent 3 nights at a hostel right in the heart of The Old City, literally around the corner from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and five minutes from everything else. Becky and Amali spent two days in the West Bank, near Bethlehem, at a summer camp teaching African and Turkish dance to Palestinian children (I tried to teach them to play ultimate frisbee, but without much success). In Jerusalem, we have visited holy sites of the 3 faiths based here, we have visited historical museums, we have toured the walls of the old city, and eaten more Humus than we probably should have. We participated in a rally against the displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem by Settlers. And we have visited with some old friends here as well. Jerusalem is a city divided. Orthodox and Secular, Palestinian and Jew, Modern and Old, Cheap and Expensive (At some locations we purchased coffee for prices that make Starbucks seem like a bargain).
Becky and I are both disturbed by the depth and nature of the divisions we have observed and by the activity of Settlers within East Jerusalem, displacing and destroying neighborhoods that have been traditionally Palestinian (South of the old city, in the area called "David's City" -- historically the site of Jerusalem in the time of King David -- Arab homes were demolished and families rendered homeless in order to build a parking lot!). The tragedy of Jerusalem's expansion and systematic displacement of it's Arab population has definitely made this a rough stay for those of us who were here 20 years ago. On the other hand, the development and improvements in West Jerusalem, are exciting and stimulating. See the pictures above.