Hannah and Je together

Monday, 20 January 2014

Israel Trip Eleventh Day: Ramallah, Shechem, and Samaria

Today we moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth.

Israel Checkpoint

Israel Checkpoint

We had to go through the checkpoint because we were going out into Palestinian area. These checkpoints are horrible. But the worst is yet to come. We went to Ramallah to meet Mrs. Jean Zaru. Ramallah is founded by Christians, and still Christians are dominant. And it is rule that the mayor must be Christians from the old days. Ramallah also has many industrial and commercial businesses. Ramallah also works as the de facto capital of Palestine. It is not one of the tourist attraction, so people there gave us very curious eyes. Ram means high place and Allah is God. So Ramallah is Divine Heights.

Jean Zaru

Jean Zaru

Mrs. Jean Zaru is a Quaker. She is very active for the human rights of Palestinians, and also for the Palestinian women. In that way, she is kind of unique. People we met so far work for the general Palestinian, none for the specifically women. But as we all know, women tend to be weaker in many ways including physically and sexually. Consequently if women are exposed to same level of violence as men, they are way more vulnerable. And that is way we need to protect and help them more. Some people believe providing numerically same thing is fair, but I do not. Providing different things so that everybody can live equally is fair and that is my social justice. I would like to write about it later.

Land of Gibeon

Land of Gibeon

When we passed by on the bus, our local guide George identified us many different places. This one is land of Gibeon. It comes in Joshua 9. The people here deceived Joshua as if they were from the land of far far away.

Bethel

Bethel

This is Bethel. Bethel means house of God, and the story comes in Genesis when Jacob fled from his brother, he slept here and saw a ladder or stairway reaching to the heaven and the angels up and down.

Shiloh

Shiloh

This is Shiloh where Samuel stayed and ordained two first kings; Saul and David. And most importantly this is where the ark of covenant stayed. Shiloh means ‘his’ in Hebrew, and was dedicated place to God.

Mount Blessing and Cursing

Mount Blessing and Cursing

This is two mountains of Blessing (on the left) and Cursing (on the right) which Joshua summoned and arrayed people there and asked them to choose which God they would serve. This is in the land of Shechem. Ancient or Biblical Shechem is now called Nablus. Romans built this city at A.D. 70 after they conquered Jerusalem and named it Neopolice, new city. And the name became Nablus.

Jacobs Well Church

Jacobs Well Church

In the place where the Jacob’s well is, there is a Greek Orthodox Church and is so beautiful.

Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well

Under the Church, we found the Jacob’s well. And just in case you may not know, the photo-shooting is forbidden. And again, our McCormick group got special permit again. I think God is really with us. I drew some water myself and tasted. It was good and I was amazed the well is functioning well even after 4,000 years of time. As you may know this is the well that Jesus met a Samaritan woman and talked.

Joseph's Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb

Then we went to Joseph’s tomb. There is no archaeological evidence on this as usual for holy places. But it is said by tradition. And the tomb itself is covered with nice stone, and nobody knows what is in there. The stone is supposedly built by Muslims because its direction is toward Mecca.

Town Kids

Town Kids in Samaria

Then we drove to Samaria, the capital city of Northern Kingdom of Israel. The original capital was another place, but the famous evil king Omri moved the capital to Samaria, and Ahab also reigned here. Our group had lunch there but I skipped the lunch and walked around the village. And I sat there and thought watching the mountains around: Some place are identified and marked as holy, and some not. Why and what makes the difference? The holy rock does not made up of some holy molecule. I think that is holy because someone did some holy action. We people makes some place holy or evil. Our action and our deed is most important thing.

Roman Basilica

Roman Basilica

Herod the great built a roman city in Samaria and named it sebaste – August in Greek. This is roman style Basilica where people gathers and do some business.

Theatre built by Herod

Theatre built by Herod

This is theatre. And there is ancient horse racing track built again by Herod (not in this photo). The track is now just a flat field.

John the Baptist Church

John the Baptist Church

By tradition, it is believed that John the Baptist’s head is buried here, and crusaders built a Church for him.

Palace of Omri and Ahab

Palace of Omri and Ahab

This is part of the Palace where the evil kings of Omri and Ahab lived.

View from the Samaria Top

View from the Samaria Top

We went to the top of Samaria so that we can have some nice view. According to a boy from the village, we can even see the Mediterranean sea on clear days. In biblical times, all and every important place is always the highest point in the whole area.

August Temple

August Temple

This is the August temple which Herod built to flatter August, the roman emperor. August is a god, and a son of god (which is Caesar).

Where Jesus met ten lepers

Where Jesus met ten lepers

After the Samaria, we moved to Nazareth. And at some point, our local guide said that we are running on the same road where Jesus met ten lepers.

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Until now we were in the West Bank, and Nazareth is in Israeli land. And there is a checkpoint (we may say it border). And it was horrible experience waiting and stuck in the traffic. And when we got there finally, three soldiers with machine guns came up on the bus. They asked our local guide and Ted many questions in separate place. And they also checked everybody’s passport with actual face. They were not that kind, but I believe it was their maximum kindness. They would act way more horribly to Palestinians. I am glad that I experienced this at least once and I cannot imagine the lives of Palestinians who go through this everyday and even twice a day.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Israel Trip Ninth Day: Hebron

Today was kind of lecture day. We had three speakers in a day: one from religious Jewish, one from Christian group, and another from Muslim Imam.

View of Bethlehem from the Hotel

View of Bethlehem from the Hotel

When I’ve got up in the morning, I went out to the balcony and took this picture – the Bethlehem from the hotel.

Machbelah Cave(?)

Machbelah Cave(?)

And we went to Machbelah in Hebron. Machbelah is the burial cave originally Abraham bought for his wife Sarah. All the most important three generations of Patriarchs with their wives are buried here (by tradition). The only exception is Rachael as you know from the Bible.

헤롯과 그 이후 시대의 막벨라 벽

Machbelah of Herodian and after era

This tomb building is built by Herod. Even though Herod is cruel and did many bad things, there are so many things he left. The stone are recognised by its distinctive frame pattern. The upper part is built by Mamluk.

Machbelah Mosque

Machbelah Mosque

This site is fourth most holy place for Muslims, and before Israeli government came, it was of course Muslim’s. When Israeli army came, they divided it into two sections; one for Muslim, and the other for Jewish. This is muslim side mosque.

Machbelah Mosque Ceiling

Machbelah Mosque Ceiling

Just like other mosques, this one is so beautiful too. About the division, Abraham and Sarah are shared by both sides. They both can see it only though the caged windows. Muslims have Isaac and his wife Rebecca. Jews have Jacob and his wife Leah. Jews got what really matters to them because Jacob is the top common ancestor and is exclusive to them. But for the Muslims, Isaac is not the most important person, but Ishmael.

Prayer towards Mecca

Prayer towards Mecca

As I already wrote in previous posting, you will know where is the direction towards mecca in any mosque.

Sarah's tomb

Sarah’s tomb

When you go into the muslim side of the Machbelah, the very first you would see is Sarah.

Rebecca’s tomb

Rebecca’s tomb

Then inside the mosque, you can see the Rebecca next.

Isaac's tomb

Isaac’s tomb

Isaac is by Rebecca but little bit further.

Abraham's tomb

Abraham’s tomb

If you turn around, then you can see the Abraham.

In front of the Machbelah

In front of the Machbelah

We came out of the muslim side, and some of us went into the Jewish section. We must have gone without our local guide because even though he is Christian, the Israeli soldiers did not let him through. It is very stupid. They know he is law-abiding good citizen and just a tour guide. As you can see in the picture, Hebron and around the Machbelah area is very tensed and so many soldiers and military vehicles are always circling around.

Leah's tomb

Leah’s tomb

In the Jewish section, there is partition and writing “Women” in hebrew. The closer side which is right is Abraham and Sarah. The farther side which is the room on the left is their grandson. When you stepped into the room, Leah is on the right, and Jacob is on the left.

Jacob's tomb

Jacob’s tomb

There is no English signs at all either muslim or Jewish side. In the muslim section, local guide read us the Arabic. In the Jewish side, I was able to recognise the Hebrew names.

Christian Peacemaker Team

Christian Peacemaker Team

Then we went to the Christian Peacemaker Team whose office is in old town Hebron. They have a lot of difficulties working for the persecuted Palestinians, and even one of them were killed. But they still standing on their ground and working, sacrificing for others.

View of Hebron

View of Hebron

This is the Hebron view from the Christian Peacemaker Team office.

Kia Hebron

Kia Hebron

In Bethlehem, I saw Hyundai. And in Hebron, I saw Kia – another Korean auto maker.

Glass Factory

Glass Factory

Then we went to famous Glass Factory. Two were working on each side of the furnace. They presented us great show while they were making glass vases. It is amazing and when they do it, it looks so simple.

Horse as transportation

Horse as transportation

Do you see the horse? It is not for tourists, nor fun. They use it as mean of transportation. I’ve seen some people use horse or donkey as mean of transportation only in Palestinian area. What does this mean?

Tourist Police Bike

Tourist Police Bike

Downtown Hebron is crazy place with tons of cars, buses, trucks and horses too. I’ve never known that there is such thing like Tourist Police. But the officer came to us and guided the bus, sometimes stopping other traffic. How nice to us, the tourists.

Sheep neck

Sheep neck

We went to a very nice restaurant in Hebron whose name is ‘Hebron Restaurant.’ I ordered sheep neck. It was not bad, but ao tender and mild. The meat just melted as soon as my tongue touched it. Speaking of tongue, I ate beef tongue for dinner.

Jewish Settler Speaking

Jewish Settler Speaking

Then we went to nearby synagogue and listened to a religious Jewish settler in Hebron. He said many things, but I guess it was not that impressive to McCormick group. One of the things he said is that Israeli government built hospitals, schools for Palestinians and many of them are thankful for that. When he said that, I was confused if he is Japanese speaking to Koreans under Japanese occupation.

Imam Maher Assaf

Imam Maher Assaf

At the evening, we invited Imam Maher Assaf. Imam is a title for Muslim religious leader. Our local guide sitting next to him translated Arabic into English. He is liberal muslim, and most of the muslim does not think like him. But he is quite interesting figure to me.

Palestine Traditional Drink

Palestine Traditional Drink

At the evening session, our local guide George was with us and he introduced us Palestinian traditional (very strong alcoholic) drink. I forgot the name, but we mixed it with water and put some ice. Of course I did not drink it.

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