Saturday, April 27, 2013

Last Day in Jerusalem

Market Scene in Old City, Jerusalem

I’m writing this on my last day in Jerusalem.  Tomorrow at this time I will, Inshalla, be airborne, en route to Newark, NJ (and then on to Washington, D.C.)

I will have undergone a security check at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv that, I’m told, could range from routine to intensive (complete with strip-search and having my carefully-packed bag completely dismantled!).  We actually spent an hour yesterday, talking about the possible “scenarios” surrounding the airport “experience,” so that nothing would take us by surprise.

I’m told that my age takes me out of the “profile” of people who get the full treatment – generally it's reserved for people under 30 and/or “people of color.”  Still, I’m also told it's random – they may question me because of the length of time I have been here, or because something “suspicious” is in my luggage (a box of wineglasses from the factory in Hebron?  an olivewood camel?).

But today I had the gift of time – of being unfettered by schedules to enjoy this last day in the warm Jerusalem sunshine.
Tea at Austrian Hospice

I walked through the Old City one final time, breathing in the aroma of spices while watching my feet on the slippery cobblestones.  I sipped tea and ate apple strudel while enjoying the garden of the Austrian Hospice.  I watched the bustle of people make their way through the narrow, crowded streets and thought about how lucky I’ve been to be able to experience this wonderful place over the past several months.

Tonight I will join two Americans – one a former EA serving here with the UCC church, the other a United Methodist missionary – at the Church of Scotland, where they conduct a monthly “contemplative” service.  Later, we will dine together, and talk about our visions for this troubled place.

When I return to Portland, I will share my stories with all who will listen – individuals as well as organized groups.  And I will continue to write about the Palestine that I have come to know and love in my three months here. Maybe not as often, and maybe with a different focus, but, rest assured, you will be able to continue following my posts through my “re-entry” to my “real life” and with my advocacy.
A Journey through Jerusalem

Inshalla, I will return to Palestine (if I’m not “blacklisted” on my way out!).  I’d like to bring a group here – show them why they should care about the fate of the Palestinian people and about the United States’ role in perpetrating the illegal occupation of their land. 

And I hope that those of you who have been reading, will think about making your own journey.  It doesn’t have to be for three months – but it should include more than the “usual” Israeli tourist spots.  But a warning – once you have seen the Wall, once you have talked to the people who live behind it, your life will be changed forever!!

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