Monday, April 14, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Monday, March 24, 2014
Aziz does not look for Mimi
when he opens the steel shop door
in the Old City a few minutes' walk
from Damascus Gate,
through narrow stone-paved paths
between shops and shops and shops
like Aziz's except that they don't
make and sell camel leather purses
and briefcases and jackets--
well, some do, perhaps, somewhere
else in the Old City of Quds, but that is
He knows that she will most likely
be sleeping on a pile of leather scraps,
or curled up under the small tv
on some back copies of Al Quds newspapers,
as he opens the door, stretches,
switches on the sewing machine,
clicks the tv remote, starts in on
the new orders for purses or jackets--
there is one for the guy from the Phillipines--
while people walk by, or a motor scooter
or a utility vehicle navigate noisily
past his shop let into the wall of the
Old City of Quds that the Yehudi
and the internationals call Jerusalem.
Mimi reminds him of his younger sisters,
the way they used to play and squabble;
he unconsciously smiles, thinking of them,
anxious for them, anxious for his father
and mother, for the shop that
the Israeli tour guides herd their customers quickly by because, as the guides tell their customers,
"The Arabs will cheat you!"
Mimi, who had no name when
the international woman found her
gaunt and sick near the Damascus Gate,
vulnerable to the other feral cats,
awakens, perhaps because of the sound
of Aziz's smile, tugging her from a nap
and a dream, perhaps of food,
or a nightmare of the vague hungry time
before the woman took her to Aziz,
who fed her, gave her medicine.
Mimi stretches, sticks out her tiny tongue,
which widens the man's smile into a grin.
She will amuse herself playing huntress
of dust motes, will ask for food, sip water,
her tail twitching as she watches
the humans' feet as they slap
the hard stones of the street beyond
her home, her place of trust,
her place of safety with Aziz,
whose name she does not know
any more than she knows her own.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Readers of this blog may be forgiven for thinking that all we were about in Palestine and Israel was tourism. This is true to some extent--we certainly did some touring, as you have no doubt seen.
What we were really about--our primary purpose--was human rights monitoring and protective presence for those under Occupation, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel. This entailed being present at checkpoints at peak hours (about 4:30 AM to 6:30 AM) to monitor treatment of Palestinians going through to Israel; responding to emergencies such as house demolitions, settler violence, and Israeli Defense Force violence against Palestinians; reporting weekly and as needed to the United Nations through the World Council of Churches. One more thing: advocacy, perhaps the most important activity of all.
We are mandated to speak out about what we experienced there in order to create awareness in our fellow citizens to put pressure on the Israeli government and military to end the Occupation and to conform to international law. We Canadians can hang our heads in shame at our government's idiotic pro-Israeli stance, but we individually may do something to counteract it.
To that end, I already have another blog, http://walkinginbethlehem.blogspot.com , where you can see what was really going on at the time. Occasionally, I'll post relevant pieces here as well, but I will try to avoid cross-posting.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The day started well: we resolved, three of us this time, to go up the Mount of Olives and walk across and down before returning through the Old City to where we were staying. Ambitious, but we used the local bus to do the donkey work of getting us up the Mount, which is a very steep hill indeed.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
In the city of Nablus, to which we journeyed yesterday, there are two sites of potential importance, related to each other. One is the archaeological site, Tell Balata, associated with or actually, the Biblical city of Shechem. The other is Jacob's Well, described in both the Hebrew and Greek Testaments: the latter describes the story of Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman at the well and having conversation with her, near the city of Shechem.
Over the well site is a large Greek Orthodox church, to which we traveled. The well is at the back of the church, down a flight of stone stairs to a smallish room. The well top is more recent, of native stone with iron bar reinforcements and a crank apparatus to lower and draw up a tin bucket. The water is cold and drinkable.
Jamal, the caretaker, had let us in a full half hour before the regular visiting hours (thanks, Jamal!), and told us to listen by the well as he tossed some water from the bucket back into it. We counted quite a few seconds before we could hear the water splash below--the well is around 40 metres deep altogether.
No pictures were permitted in the small room, but the church was selling postcards showing a priest beside the well, prayerfully drawing water from it.
I settled for pictures of the ornate sanctuary on the main floor of the church:
Saturday, January 11, 2014
A friend in Canada had told us that the Garden Tomb was well worth the visit, but finding things in Jerusalem can be a tricky affair if you don't rely on the ubiquitous tour bus operators and taxi drivers. Even then...
We had decided on a supper at a restaurant, but wanted a walk first. On the walk, I happened to notice one of the brown and white tourist signs: The Garden Tomb. It turns out to have been right under our noses.
The Tomb's significance is twofold: it is right by the Golgotha hill (which is visible right outside the grounds of the Tomb),
The Tomb site has probably the best souvenir shop of any we have seen, with pleasant but not pushy staff.
We will soon leave the Middle East, but the stay has been well worth it. We have so much to ponder, so much to consider, for when we return home later this month.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
I had occasion yesterday to walk on a different route around the Old City of Jerusalem. I am more familiar with the New Gate area, Herod's Gate and Damascus Gate, but yesterday, I was taken around to the Lion Gate and the Dung Gate, making my Old City Wall tour almost complete.
What my companion pointed out to me across the way, however, was surprising. Even after two months, I find myself geographically challenged, especially when it comes to Biblical places.