We finally arrived in Tel Aviv and made it through Israeli security with only one bag getting lost and only one brown man (the only brown man) getting called in for questioning. IDF just wanted to chat about his religious affiliations before they let him into the country. (Big eye roll) at least they didn’t pretend it was anything but religious discrimination. He was released after being interrogated for an hour or so.
The 40 miles from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was peppered with Israeli flags. In fact, Israeli flags were everywhere. It seemed as though some rhetorical posturing was taking place with the amount of flags that were always in sight. Also, probably due to the fact that we happened to arrive on the exact same day as Jerusalem Day, the day celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the old city in June of 1967. As you can imagine, there are mixed feelings concerning this day where some Israelis are celebratory, some are ambivalent, and the Palestinians are less than thrilled.
We got to JUC in time for dinner and I met some new friends here that have been on campus for a week from Fresno Pacific University. They were kind enough to take me on a tour of the Old city. It was spectacular!
There were huge celebrations in honor of Jerusalem Day. People were crowding the streets, singing songs, waving flags, and dancing. This was totally my scene, I couldn’t stop smiling, being in the midst of the very heart beat of the city was exhilarating. We got a bit lost and we were trying to figure out how to get back to Joppa gate, when a guy named Isaac stopped us and asked if we needed help. We said we were going to Joppa, and he said he was too and to follow him. I started talking with Isaac and asking him about himself. He and his family immigrated from Chicago to Jerusalem and he had just finished his two years of military service. I asked how he felt about his military service, and overall he viewed it as a good experience. I then asked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what he thought about it. “Overall,” he said, “we all just want to live our lives. If that means we live among one another, I’m happy with that, I just don’t want to kill or get killed.”
He guided us to Joppa gate and we then parted ways with a happy goodbye and our little group from JUC walked to an outdoor mall.
Phew, another long post, and I haven’t even gotten to the adventures we had today. I’ll have to do some double duty soon on this stuff to keep you all posted. Have a wonderful day/night in whatever time zone you may be in!