Today we revisited the old city. There were concerns that we would not be able to visit the western wall because of a fight that broke out between Jews and Muslims at the holy sites of the Temple Mount has resulted in the death of a
Palestinian man this past Friday. Luckily, however, violence due to religion tends to occur on Friday (because it is the Islamic holy day) and quickly blow over. While we were able to go to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount had been closed off, and a band of orthodox Jews had a police escort accompanying them to a Jewish graveyard in eastern Jerusalem. It just goes to show how quickly things can fall apart and how much constant tension there is between Israelis and Palestinians, especially regarding holy sites.
This afternoon we went to an organization called Rabbis for Human Rights and heard from Arik Ascherman on his work and his perspective of the conflict. He was a truly inspirational speaker and his stories of his civil disobedience in The name of Palestinian rights were extremely compelling. While each organization we have heard from acts on its beliefs, he seemed to be the most active in doing so and follows a life of the reverence for Judaism and Jewish community, along with the ability to see flaws in the Israeli system in its treatment of Palestine, and profound moral discontent with this system.
Tonight I am staying with a host family in Beit Sahour. They’ve been extremely welcoming easy to talk to. Kawkab speaks very good English and explained to me that all she wants is peace and basic human rights for the Palestinian people. Shadi, the youngest (6) is full of energy and is very talkative, despite the fact that we can’t understand his Arabic. Fadi, his older brother has a nice smile and is shy but friendly. Luciana is very amicable and attends the University of Jerusalem, right outside the separation wall.