First, a highlight – a visit from my daughter Michelle last week :-). It was great to have her here, & introduce her to my team-mates. I enjoyed showing her around the Old City & sharing some stories about our work. I was pleased she’d also planned various tours to the main Holy Sites. So when I’m home we’ll be able to talk about the land & the issues of the Occupation with a shared ‘back story’. Here she is [left] one free evening when we enjoyed exploring Jerusalem’s ‘Festival of Light.’
With only a few days left in the Placement, there’s a lot to do as we finish up here & prepare to re-enter our own cultures. We’ve commented that many things have started to ‘gel’ for us now, with parts of our experience coming together. As an example, it’s easier to remember Arabic words & people’s names; & the place-names mean more! We’ve become ‘old hands’ at finding our way around the winding streets of the Old City. Just a shame it’s so late in the process. 🙂
Among the kaleidoscope of memories over the last few days was a significant conversation with the Director of Properties at Al Aqsa Mosque Compound. He didn’t know much about EAPPI., but listened with interest to a description of the work we do to assist Muslim worshippers. He even offered to take each new Jerusalem EA team on a tour of the Mosque Compound [right] which would be an amazing experience.
We also attended the weekly ‘Women in Black’ & Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations, this time commemorating the 48th anniversary of the Occupation of East Jerusalem . There were more protesters than usual. At Sheikh Jarrah, in our neighbourhood, there was a festive atmosphere with drummers, rappers & much good energy! Then local Israeli settlers [against whose actions the protest is held] called the police & there were some arrests made. Fortunately we’ve just heard that the 3 men were later released without charge.
During the week, on a Placement Visit to Bethlehem, I was introduced to the ‘Monastery de l’Immanuel’ which is quite close to the placement house & Separation Wall. We heard how a well-known icon ‘writer’ had been requested to paint an icon [below] on the wall near the monastery. It depicts a pregnant Mary weeping over Bethlehem. Some time later, an Israeli artist asked if he could also paint on this part of the wall. The icon ‘writer’ asked whether that work could be done elsewhere; but when he returned a few days later he found this cartoon [left] had appeared next to his icon. The icon ‘writer’ said, ‘It’s just like the Occupation all over again.’
The complex tapestry of life here has so many threads; there are so many layers to every story….
To conclude, 2 images from yesterday…… one, the ugliness of the Separation Wall & a watch tower @ Qalandia Check Point, between Jerusalem & Ramallah – a place we’re very familiar with [ right];
the second, this beautiful climbing plant I found on the walk home from the bus stop [below left] . Wherever there is ugliness, something of beauty can be found helping to correct the balance, if we have eyes to see. I am participating as an Accompanier in EAPPI., the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine & Israel. The opinions expressed here are personal, & may not reflect those of the National Council of Churches in Australia, nor the W.C.C. If you would like to publish the information contained here, including posting on a website, please first contact the Advocacy officer [firstname.lastname@example.org] for permission. Thank you.