It took 9 hours, 58 minutes and 9 seconds of airtime, but we finally arrived in Tel Aviv. Our first day in Jerusalem was relativly relaxed, with a short bus ride to the hotel (the distances here are amazingly short) and then a walk around the old city after we checked in. The Old city of Jerusalem is an absolutely beautiful place, and the best way I have of describing it is by quoting one of my friends when she said “why don’t they make cities like this anymore?” The streets are all narrow stone, are covered over half the time and are swarming with shops. Each shop is about six feet wide and fifteen deep, and seems like it has more stuf in it than most modern department stores. They are filled with an interesting aroma, a blend of smoke, foods (of an amazing variety), and something I can’t quite place.
Today (Wednesday) we took a rather extensive tour of the Old City in the morning, visiting the Western (or Wailing) Wall, the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. As I am short on time, I won’t go into great detail here, but will just say that the sights were mind blowing. One of the moments I remember well was when I walked by an Israeli soldier (all over the old city) and realized that the kid was exactly the same age as me. Were I an Israeli, I would be in his place right now (they have compulsory service requirements).
During the second part of the day, we were given a talk and tour by an organization of Israeli Jews against the Home Demolition policies of Israel. The level to which Israel goes to control the Palestinian population is truly scary. One of the most powerful stops on the tour was to get right up to the Wall, called, depending on who you ask, the “Security Wall”, the “Separation Wall”, the “Apartide Wall”, or (if you are me) the “Berlin Wall, Take Two”. The wall is a massive, ugly slab of concrete toped with barbed wire slicing the landscape in two.
Unfortunately, my computer time is going to run out in about 30 seconds, so I will post this for now and try to promise more to come.