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We’re here! We had no real problem getting through security in Tel Aviv because, luckily, I speak Hebrew and helped shepherd both Jared and Dara through the questioning. Dara was stopped and taken to a special room because of her last name (Hajjar) and Jared because he’s black and seemed to be traveling alone. I intervened and promised I knew them both for a long time and they would be with me the whole time. That’s how privilege works in Israel from the get go.
We spent our lay over in Brussels, which is a bi-national state divided in half according to language regions between Flemmish and French speaking regions. Brussels sits more or less on the border and all train announcements and signs are in both languages. One sees less and less evidence of bi-lingual signs in Israel. We noted that Bethlehem has a welcome sign in 10 different languages including Hebrew.
In Brussels we ate waffles and chocolate and walked around center city which is replete with narrow streets and squares and lots of buildings with angels, lions, greek and romanesque statuary, gold relief and tourism stores featuring the famous and extremely tiny mannequin pis, a small statue of a boy pissing who is said to have saved Brussels from a fire. We also met with Tim Wallis, the director of Nonviolent Peace Force. NPF is a civilian peace force that endeavors to provide space for individuals to work through areas of conflict. Go to http://www.nonviolentpeaceforc
The checkpoint into Jerusalem was staffed by sleepy child soldiers who glance at our faces while talking on the phone or to each other. We were waved us on through. Most Palestinian are searched and questioned. Crossing over into Bethlehem is akin to passing through a prison gate. We were all taken aback by the tourism images of Jerusalem on the 28 foot high wall and compound that isolates Palestinians behind a barrier of separation. While Israelis are protesting privatization by the tens of thousands, we noted that privatization is also happening at checkpoints without much commentary. We are reading about a new awareness between Israeli Jews and Palestinians in Israel but have not yet had first hand experience of the movement.
Today we’re resting in Beit Sahour (Shepherd’s Field) and travel to Nablus tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Blog written by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb