Hannah and Je together

Monday, 1 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Seventh Day – Last Day

There was no class on the last day.  The school always told us that the last class is Thursday, but the day before, the secretary of the language centre told us that there would be no class on the last day.  But we just had small ceremony.

I left the house around 10:30 in the morning because the ceremony was at 11.  I asked the family to call a cab, and I paid 20 shekels from home to school.  Do you remember the cab driver on my first day in Bethlehem who yelled at us and dropped us in the middle of the way to the Siraj centre because we refused to give him 25 shekels?  Home-Bethlehem University is 3/4 longer than Siraj-Bethlehem University, and today’s driver charged me 20 shekels.

Classmates.  Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy.  Anna from Switcherland is not here

Classmates. Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy. Anna from Switzerland is not here

The ceremony was simple, and I’ve got a certificate.  Anna from Switzerland could not attend the ceremony because her airline emailed her that her flight is changed one day earlier, which is Thursday.  So she went to the airport.  And the Spoken Arabic Level 1 teacher did not show up too.  Anna is from Switzerland, but working in Germany.  She is very nice girl, but also very strong in her opinion and people must agree with her.  Once we were talking about the war, and she was demonising Israel with the number of death in Gaza.  I do not deny that many people were killed in Gaza by the Israeli attack.  I told her that Hamas also tried to attack, they just did not succeed.  Then she mentioned the number of deaths on both sides and said “how can it be the same!”  I also told her it is because Israel has defensive technology and successfully defended its citizens, not because Hamas was better in spirit and mind and refused to attack the other.  Then she became so mad.  I do not understand why so many people especially from Europe think Palestinians are good, but Israelis are pure evil?

A few days before the talk, our classmates, including Anna and I, were talking about airlines.  I said that I am flying with SWISS (Anna was happy), but I think Lufthansa is slightly better than SWISS.  At this point, she became so offended with that.  And yesterday, we were talking again in the class about the airlines.  I told her that SWISS is one of the top airlines.  Then she said with still little bit angry voice, “SWISS air is NOT one of the top airlines.  It is the ONLY TOP airline!  I am not saying this because I am from Switzerland.  It is just the FACT!”  I wanted to ask her to prove it with the numbers and evidences, but I just said, “OK” to avoid her anger.

Gemma from Spain

Gemma from Spain

After the ceremony, some of the students had lunch together.  And there were three people going to the airport including me.  Edward Fox, middle-aged guy from England wanted to join me but was not sure.  And Zoey from rural Illinois wanted to go to the airport with me and she asked me to wait for her in the bus stop for an hour.  Actually she came to the bus stop in two hours.  She is very spoiled daughter, and her father does everything for her even for now when she is in college, and consequently she does not know to do anything.

While I was standing next to the bus stop, the taxi drivers came to me to ask the taxi ride.  I told them that I am waiting for my friend, then they found that I speak Arabic, and became very curious about me.  So I was surrounded by them and talked two hours.  I found that Christians and Muslims have different greetings in Arabic.  Some of the people I talked have multiple wives (the maximum number is four).  Later, they began to shout “Fucking America” surrounding me as if they protest in front of the Embassy.  It was half joke and half serious.  They said no Palestinians like America and they hate it more than Israel.  Later, one of them advised me not to say I am from America but just say that I am a Korean because identifying oneself as an American is not wise in Palestine.

After waiting two hours, Zoey came to the bus stop, and I also found Edward too.  So we three journeyed to the airport together.  The bus was full of Students of Bethlehem University, Palestinians living in Jerusalem.  At the checkpoint, everybody got off the bus, and walked through the soldiers showing the permits and passports.  It was my first time getting off the bus for the checking.  Every time, the soldiers got on the bus.  And because of this, I lost my seat.

Edward’s flight was 9pm, Zoey’s 11pm, and mine was 5am next morning.  From Jerusalem, there are two ways to go to the airport.  Getting a sherut (or shared taxi), and using the public transportation.  The best and fastest way is to use the sherut.  I explained them about both ways, and I recommended the sherut.  But somehow, Edward insisted on the public transportation.  It was about 5pm, and I was kind of worried about his flight, but he insisted.  From the Damascus gate, we used light railway to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.  ANd we waited an hour and got on the bus to the Haifa, and got off at the airport city.  There we were supposed to get on the free shuttle, or any public bus to the airport terminals, but we did not see anything.  And finally we got on a cab all together.  It was about 8pm when we got to the airport terminal.  He ran as fast as he can.  Zoey went through the security check right away  because the security check begins three hours prior to the flight.  Later I met Edward again.  He told me that he missed the flight.  We spent three hours on the public transportation system when we could have just spent 45 minutes on sherut.

Ilaria from Italy

Ilaria from Italy

Here comes small stories from the trip.

My hosting family in Bethlehem has a Hyundai Tucson.  I do not know how they got this, but it must be from Korea.  The owner’s manual is in Korea.  The car speaks Korean (voice activated features and instructions).  The navigation systems also shows and speaks Korean.  And they cannot use any of the advanced features of the car including Bluetooth, multimedia features and navigation.  They just drive.  And they said that they suffer from Korean language.

The family has a daughter, and two sons.  And I stayed in the daughter’s room, and every night she slept on the couch in the living room (she graduated college).  I did not feel happy and comfortable about that.  Except, the hosting family was very good.  They are super nice people.

In Palestine (and probably all the Arab world), mother does everything.  Father cannot do anything about house chores, and children are the same.  once I wanted to do my laundry and asked the daughter where the washing machine is, and she asked me back if they have one.  Five minutes later I found it in front of her room.  The family do not even gather the laundry for their mother.  She goes everywhere to collect the laundry.  When I told another lady that men do half (or more) of the house chores in Canada and America, she was shocked.  And she said complaining about the house chore is not possible and if one does, then she is considered as an evil mother and evil woman.

In Palestine, people live in peace between them, not like in other areas of middle east where they kill each other.  Even Christians and Muslims have no problem living together in Bethlehem.  But in my perception, it is just because they face bigger problem of Israel.

As I wrote above, Palestinians hate America.  Then how about Israelis?  I was told many times from the Israelis that “Do you know we hate Obama?  All Israelis hate Obama”  when I told them that I am from Chicago.  America is fool, spends a lot of money and effort on both sides and being hated from both.

On the trip to Hebron together, the so-called tour guide was talking about Hamas. I was not actually listening because he has no logic in his speech. But Lina, the girl from Germany, told him that it is not 100% that she agrees. Then the guy began to yell at her. She was freaked out, and she stopped talking with him. I think that attitude will never work to make friends. And they need friends.

Yesterday when I was sitting on a bench in the school yard, an old gentleman (he is a professor at Bethlehem University) came to me and asked if I am a Korean.  I said that I am a Korea but I am from Chicago.  He told me that they have two exchange students from Korea every year, and he thought I am one of them.  We talked a bit more.  Suddenly he asked me if I fell in love with a Palestinian girl.  I said no.  He, then, pointing two girls sitting beside me, asked me again “Don’t you think the Palestinians girls are beautiful?”  I told him that I am married.  Well, this is third time that people tried to connect me with someone.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Fifth Day – Rachael’s Tomb

Beginning of last week, the teacher told us that the final term exam would be on Wednesday, but today, she changed her word and we took the exam today.  The other students were a bit mad but I was OK because I know one day would not make any difference to me.

After class, I wanted to visit the Rachael’s tomb.  When I googled a few days ago, one of the result webpage said that the Israel Authority would not allow anyone to walk there, so I must use a vehicle.  But I just thought I would try.

Dumb boys doing dumb things

Dumb boys doing dumb things

So after the class, I walked to the Checkpoint because the Rachael’s tomb is the other side of the separation wall.  When I was walking on the Hebron road near the separation wall (checkpoint was still far), I saw about twenty boys were on the road.  They looked like middle school students.  They put a lot of garbage and stones on the road and blocked the traffic, and they were yelling at the cars when they tried to pass.  I was just walking on the sidewalk, and when I almost passed them, suddenly the boys came to me and pushed me roughly, yelling something I don’t understand.  Someone told me later that the boys were protesting against Israel.  But I don’t get it.  How can it be a protest against Israel when they block the traffic illegally with bunch of garbage and stones on the pavement, and yelling at the drivers?  All the drivers are Palestinians because this is Area A where no Israelis present.  And how can it be a Protest against Israel when they yelling at and threatening a foreign tourist?  Bunch of adults were on the sidewalk in front of their shops, but nobody tried to stop the boys bullying a tourist.  The boys got more and more rough with they pushing, and I reached my limit, so I thought I would kick and punch, and beat a few of them.

Nostalgic Tear Gas

Nostalgic Tear Gas

At that time, I heard two familiar sounds – the shooting of the tear gas.  I was protesting a lot when I was college student in South Korea, so I am very familiar with tear gas.  With the hat that Hannah bought me in Chicago, I look very much like a tourist even from afar.  And the Israeli soldier on the watch tower saw me surrounded by the angry Palestinian boys, and they shot two tear gas cans towards me and the boys.  The Palestinians boys all ran away in a blink.  When I looked up the Israeli watch tower on the separation wall, the soldier waved at me.  And his waving made it clear that he shot the tear gas for me.  What I do not understand is where the hack are the Palestinian police officers?  They are responsible for the safety and the order of the society in Area A.

When I finally walked to the Israeli checkpoint, I met Hamdi, the father of the hosting family.  So he became my guide in the checkpoint.  The walking checkpoint was huge, and it is like a maze.  But I was OK because I was with him.  Even though he has a Israel entering permit, he cannot drive there.  So he parked near the checkpoint, and cross there walking, and get a bus after the checkpoint.  While George Filmon, McCormick’s January tour guide, can drive both sides because he is an Israeli Palestinian.

After the checkpoint, there is an initial gate for the Rachael’s tomb.  There were two girl soldiers, and they told me that they cannot let me walk in because it is dangerous.  I asked them if I had to get a bus or taxi here (there is a Egged bus from Jerusalem Central Bus Station coming to the Rachael’s tomb).  The girls were very kind and nice to me, so I also told them that they are cute and pretty.  They became so happy, and we talked and laughed about ten minutes.  Then there was a car coming.  The girls stopped the car, and let them give me a ride.

Gender Separated Entrance

Gender Separated Entrance

After we got there, I asked them if they want me to pay for the ride, and they answer me back, “English No.”  So I didn’t pay.  And before I went inside, I asked a lady in front of the building if it is the Rachael’s tomb just to make sure of it.  And she did not understand, so I said “Rachael’s tomb” a few times and very slowly.  Then she asked me back, “Bathroom?”  Then I thought that the Rachael’s tomb must be “Kaber Ra-hel” in Hebrew, and that was right.  And of course, the entrance is separated by Warriors and Women.

Inside the Synagogue of Rachael's Tomb

Inside the Synagogue of Rachael’s Tomb

There were lots of Jewish people wearing the thick black coat, and a Jewish guy wearing casual with just kipa guided me and took the pictures of me there.

Rachael's Coffin

Rachael’s Coffin

This is the actual (but no evident except tradition) tomb or coffin of Rachael, the beloved wife of Jacob or Israel.  Even though Jacob loved Rachael more, I think God loved Leah more.  After all, she is the mother of tribe of Judah, and the grandmother of Jesus and David.  And she is buried with her husband while Rachael is lying alone.

Toward Jerusalem

Toward Jerusalem

One common thing of Islam and Judaism is that they always tell the direction, and pray towards there – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Jews.

Parking lot

Parking lot

This is the parking lot at the Rachael’s tomb.  The pavement on the right of the picture leads to the bigger parking lot.  The other day I complained about the shape of the separation wall when I visited the Palestinian side of the separation wall.  And I realised that was for the Rachael’s tomb.  No Palestinians are allowed to the Rachael’s tomb.  I got another ride back to the gate.  The kind Jewish guy helped me to get a ride too.  When I got to the gate, the two girls were still there, and we talked and laughed a little more.  Then I walked back home from the checkpoint, taking about hour and forty minutes.  When I told my hosting family that I walked from the checkpoint, they were very surprised and told me that they’ve never seen anyone walking that distance.

Is it mosquito or what?

Is it mosquito or what?

I posted two photos of my leg and foot with the (mosquito) bites.  Since that day, I used the electronic mosquito repellent, but still I get lots of fresh bites.  And when I was writing this blog, I felt my arm bitten, and caught this.  Is it a mosquito?  It is very small – a quarter size of the mosquitoes in Chicago.  Maybe that is why they can come through the bug screen on the window.  But two more nights in this house, and a night at the airport.  So I will be OK.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Ninth Day – Fighting with Teacher and Hebron

The arabic teacher in my class is Marwa Bannoura, young lady just married last month.  I bet she is nice person, but she has some problem at her teaching method.  She gives us too many vocabularies everyday, and expects us to memorise everything.  Because none of us can memorise all everyday, she is always mad at us.  And most days she made us feel dumb.  She always says that it is so easy, and why can’t we do this easy thing.  Oh yes, it is easy to you but not to us.

In my class, we have five students. Mateo from Italy, Anna from Switzerland, Lina from Germany, Klitos (which we call clitoris) from Ghana, and I.  The other students sometimes told me that they feel so dumb.  And today, I do not know what happened to her, but she looked very unhappy from the beginning.  And when we were not doing well with Arabic, she raised her voice and yelled at us.  I was holding myself for three weeks, but I could not bear this any more, so I had some argument with her.  She became so emotional and commanded me as if she is the queen and I am her servant.  I came out of the class eventually.

I do not know about the Palestinian culture and its teaching method, but I am not Palestinian first of all.  And she cannot treat us as kids.

First she talked to the dean, and later dean came to me and we talked.  One of the thing she complained about me to the dean was that I ask too many questions.  I doubted my ears.  Isn’t a student supposed to ask questions?  What the hack is wrong here?  When students cannot catch up, especially every student in the class, then she needs to change the way of her teaching, and repeat that until students get it, not yelling at the students “dumb.”

And she dropped two days because she needed to go to the court for her parking tickets.  Twice in four weeks is too much.  A teacher especially these kind of Academy is a service provider, not a queen nor governor over the students.  She is not professional but just amateur.

Jewish Settlement

Jewish Settlement

Anyway, six students went to Hebron after the class.  A student who arranged it told me that his friend is not an official tour guide but better than any other, and we would visit not only the tomb but also the old market and we can see the Palestinian reality.  So I joined them.  The picture is Jewish settlement above the Old Market.

Protecting Net

Protecting Net

Above some streets of the old market, Palestinians placed a net because Jewish settlers throws too much garbage and sometimes stones.  As the McCormick travel group experienced, the settlers in West Bank are mostly religious Jews, and they are so much worse than secular Jews.  We all saw that Mara was bitten here in Hebron by a Jewish settler.

Market Checkpoint

Market Checkpoint

Today we crossed three checkpoints in Hebron.  One is when we went out of the old market which is the picture above.  Then when we went in to the Jewish side of the tomb, and also when we went in Muslim side.  Strangely enough, the soldiers were so friendly to us.  They were all smiling at us, and very nice.  It was good, I am not saying it is bad.  I was told that there are different races among Jews, and they also have very strong racism.  And I was also told that European (White) Jews are not really dispatched here in Hebron because it is dangerous.  Well, I cannot say that is 100% true, but I looked around and that was true at least today in front of my eyes.

We went to the Jewish synagogue first, and I did some kind of tour guide because the so-called unofficial or unregistered Palestinian tour guide are not allowed in the synagogue, and I can read Hebrews.  And when we passed the Muslim side checkpoint, it was beginning of the Muslim Prayer time.  We were not allowed to enter for an hour, so we gave up to enter.  The fake tour guide told us that “you saw the Jewish side, and it is the same.”  Well, actually it is not the same.  I actually wanted to ask him, “How do you know?  You’ve never been to the Jewish side.”  So our so-called tour guide literally did nothing, but I did.

Hirbawi Textile Factory

Hirbawi Textile Factory

Then we went to Hirbawa Textile factory.  The machines are so old, I thought they are from the Industrial Revolution.  Two girls in my group wanted to buy some fabric, but they called the price too high, and they were very rude to us and was not willing to negotiate.  So the girls did not buy because of their attitude rather than the price itself.

Another Glass Factory

Another Glass Factory

Then we went to glass factory, but this is not the same place where McCormick group visited.  It is smaller, but the making the glass itself was almost the same.

When we going back, the tour guide asked us more money because they stopped at two factories.  It was 30 shekels, which is 5 shekels each, so we just paid them.  And they did not drop us at each one’s house as the official tour company does, but they just dropped us all at the Bethlehem University.  So I also had to walk 50 minutes.  I just realised that it is better and safe to use the real tour service.  Today, it was just waste of money and time.  Today was the first and hopefully the only shitty day in my entire trip.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.