I returned from Bethlehem feeling recharged after indulging myself in Banksy’s wonderful sensory experience, the Walled Off Hotel. I returned to a six bed dorm in a very nice hostel just 100 feet from my previous hotel. Unfortunately, the room was occupied by a pig who had no concept of hostel etiquette. Not only was he incapable of keeping the water in the well sealed shower stall, he flooded half the room as well.
However, his bathing habits were the least of our problems. I couldn’t understand why the room took on a sour smell whenever he stayed in it for any length of time. I found out later that evening that he had a case of aggressive flatulence. He made no effort to muffle his belching buttocks even though there were ladies in the room. He was about twenty, had Jesus hair, a long beard, and all dressed in white.
I don’t know what the guy’s deal was, but I was blessed to have a window next to my bed since he was good for at least four or five loud volleys per evening. He and his melodic anus were present for all four nights I was there. What a douche.
STAY-INN HOSTEL – A very good quality, medium sized, extremely social place to stay. The kitchen is well appointed, the beds are comfortable, the showers are hot, and the staff is accommodating. Just keep your fingers crossed on the roommate situation. There are a lot of nutty religious types visiting the Holy Land. Case in point, an Asian fellow was running around declaring that Jesus had cured him of his schizophrenia, and that he had gone off his meds. Funny bit is, I found out that he was palling around with my roommate, Shane the nostril terrorist. I guess Shane had stopped taking his Beano thinking that Christ would make him immune to excessive consumption of hummus, beans, and fruit.
MY THIRD TRIP TO THE WESTERN WALL
Once again, I am on another mission to the Holy City. A good friend is suffering from chronic, severe depression and anxiety, and I am making my way to the Western Wall once again. This time I am bringing a Jerusalem stone plaque with a Hebrew prayer to alleviate the problem. Like Grandma’s Mezuzah it will take up residence on a ledge on the wall to hopefully imbue it with something that will do the trick. My friend has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this problem, but is still suffering. At this point, I’d piss on a spark plug if I thought it would help.
Also since I’m in the neighborhood, I thought I’d make a pit stop at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to supercharge some crosses for my sister who is a big Jesus fan.
The importance here is they are laying upon the same slab that Christ was placed upon before he was entombed.
The stone beneath where Christ was crucified.
The place of Christ’s resurrection.
People enter to see the place where Christ was entombed and resurrected.
Passing through the souk to get to the Wester Wall one last time.
It was so nice to enjoy the Western Wall one last time without the crowds.
My friend’s plaque soaking up thousands of years of answered prayers. I met a young lady who met her husband after sliding a written prayer into the stone. Surely something as important as my friend’s ailment should get results. The shopkeeper who sold me the plaque wrote a nice prayer in Hebrew, and I added my own two cents. I slid it in the crack between a couple of lucky looking stones. Hopefully between this and some quality medical treatment, things will turn around soon for my friend. I went straight from the wall to the Post Office in the Holy City, and sent them so there will be less time to wait.
HEBRON TOUR – JEWISH SECTOR
A WELL EQUIPPED ISRAELI SOLDIER
Israli Paratroopers Insignia
ROOTS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE – THE BIBLICAL ERA
Hebron City of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, Capital of Judea, and site of the onset of David’s reign.
A PIOUS COMMUNITY – 10TH. – 19TH. CENTURIES:
Hebron, one of the four holy cities in the Land of Israel. A community of Torah, charity, and kindness.
DESTRUCTION – THE 1929 RIOTS: Arab marauders slaughter Jews. The community is uprooted and destroyed.
LIBERATION, RETURN, REBUILDING
1967: Liberation of Hebron and reestablishment of its Jewish community: “The children have returned to their own border” (cf. Jer. 31:17).
Looks to me like God is playing real estate agent once again.
1929 Arab Massacre of Jews
Shrine to the Massacre of 1929
Former Palestinian business all closed since the occupation.
ANCIENT STAIRWAY – Showing the existence of Jews on the land over a millennium ago.
Palestinians claim that the archaeological sit was fake to push the Israeli agenda. This is yet another example of a lack of trust that permeates the community, and helps to foster ridiculous conspiracy theories. There are plenty of real crimes to point towards without having to dream up things.
Rabbi Schlomo Romon was murdered here by a knife wielding Palestinian.
To add insult to injury, the owners of this house across the street flew a Palestinian flag after the incident.
PALESTINIAN SECTOR OF HEBRON
TOMB OF JESSE AND RUTH
TOMB OF JESSE AND RUTH
ONE OF THE UBIQUITOUS MACHINE GUN WIELDING SOLDIERS THROUGHOUT ISRAEL
STAR OF DAVID
1000 YEAR OLD OLIVE TREES!
Our tour guide had a great idea. He suggested bottling the olive oil from these special trees, and selling them for ten times the normal price. Then the funds could be split between Israeli and Palestinian Hebron as a means of much needed cooperation. Nobody ever got back to him. I think he was onto something. You could bottle them in small beautiful bottles and charge a fortune for them. Not to use, but to keep as holy relics from this hallowed land.
SPRING OF ABRAHAM
MORE WALLS – LESS UNDERSTANDING
SOMETHING USEFUL LEFT BY THE BRITS – Not exactly the most inviting loo.
Local kids give their own take on the people in their daily lives using chickens. See if you can spot the tourist and the suicide bomber.
Here we are in an ancient synagogue that was destroyed by the Palestinians and subsequently rebuilt by the Israelis. Before it was destroyed, a child managed to spirit away the priceless 300 year old Torah scrolls.
The Torah scrolls on the left were returned to the rebuilt synagogue. An old man attending a service lived to see the Torah he had saved as a boy back where they belonged.
The floor looks similar to The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
This is basically what is known as No Mans Land, occupied by neither Israelis or Palestinians.
TOMB OF THE PATRIARCHS
THE TOMB OF ABRAHAM
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE NIGHT
After an exhausting day touring both the Israeli and Palestinian areas of Hebron, I returned to talk by a Dutch Holocaust survivor already in progress. I was actually relieved to have missed most of the grisly parts since I had already ingested enough tragedy for a week. I have to tell you that after Israel, I need a vacation! That’s quite a declaration from someone who is already on permanent vacation.
Finally a little comic relief before leaving this nexus of suffering that is Israel. Here we are presented with a rare glimpse of the strange creature known as Shane the nostril terrorist who has emerged briefly from almost perpetual entombing in his curtain-enclosed gas chamber in room 207. He can be identified by his white clothing, Jesus hair and beard, high water pants, and occasional unpleasant aroma. Here he is preparing to stuff his face full of fruit and hummus. Perhaps returning to his bunk, pulling the curtains, and smelling his own exhaust will satisfy some strange religious ritual used to attain some sort of altered state, and allow him to commune with God.
Unfortunately he sat down and ate opposite me. In true to form obnoxious fashion, he consumed a pear more loudly than I thought humanly possible, all the while chewing with his mouth open. I knew the hummus and fruit would prove a combustable mixture so I was glad to be leaving that morning, and would no longer be forced to participate in his unpleasant aromatherapy.
I finished packing, grabbed my bags, and headed for the tiny elevator. I turned to see Shane and his schizophrenic sidekick ambling towards me. I threw my shit in the elevator as quickly as I could, slammed the door, and desperately hammered the ground floor button until descent was engaged. That was a close one! Can you imagine being confined in a four person elevator with that guy after a breakfast of fruit and hummus?
I went right from the frying pan into the fire. It was Friday, and travel was going to prove to be challenging. I can’t wait to get away from all of these religious rules constantly inconveniencing me. I stimulate their economy for three weeks. You’d think they could cut me a break. One mitzvah deserves another, doesn’t it?
JOIN ME AS I TRY TO MAKE MY WAY TO JORDAN WITHOUT TOTALLY LOSING MY SHIT.
WARNING: IF YOU ARE A PERSON OF FAITH – PLEASE READ NO FURTHER!
My time in the Holy Land has left me spiritually drained and exhausted. Far from gaining any sort of comfort from visiting the most sacred sites of the Abrahamic faiths, I find myself perplexed and dispirited by the conundrum that is Israel. Populated by good people who I fear are doomed to perpetual conflict. It seems no manner of prayer or demonstrations will be able to cut through the prejudice, old wounds, hatred, and systemic corruption that feeds this endless feedback loop of disrespect and violence.
Of course all of this Religious nonsense serves little purpose other than to augment their voluntary brainwashing into belief systems, that were in most cases handed down to them by their parents or simply the countries into which they were born. Things start to turn ugly when ancient texts are allowed to make policy in a modern world. Theocracy is a big problem in the Middle East, but the United States has it’s own virulent strain of fundamentalism in the halls of governance in Washington D.C. My concern in the US is that the American Taliban in power especially in military are very much into the whole “End of Days” fiction in the Bible.
Unfortunately, they take the stuff literally, and are convinced that all believers will be whisked away in a rapture if the world is destroyed. This is one of the reasons so many have little concern about climate change. They figure if we ruin everything, that again it’s Jesus to the rescue. Unfortunately, this turns Christianity into a death cult where life is devalued and death is the ultimate reward. This is particularly dangerous because if you have enough people believing this nonsense it could very well become a self fulfilling prophecy. This is no different than the mentality of the suicide bomber who prefers martyrdom to life. Again life on Earth is valueless, and the afterlife is everything.
The three Abrahamic religions are a real threat to our survival as a species given that they are a never ending source of conflict in the world and in a region where geography and theology demand it. Just because God allegedly dictated a load of rubbish to people one to two millennia ago, we are stuck with a endless supply of idiotic rules, rituals, edicts, guidance, and even what real estate belongs to whom. Some of the stuff about avoiding pork and shellfish before refrigeration had it’s practical utility, but most of what was written is either unproductive or just plain destructive.
Unfortunately there is no dealing with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict without addressing the religious component, but this inevitably leads to more conflict. Especially when the Jews cast God as a real estate agent, bestowing upon them title to property, and declaring themselves to be the chosen ones. I have always found the Jews to be a most exceptional people, but I find the whole “chosen” schtick to be a bit obnoxious.
What it all boils down to is you have two groups of badly abused people in a never ending “Punch and Judy” show where nobody feels safe, and everyone feels like they’re getting screwed. There is no respect, no trust, and no common ground. Just two groups heaping insult onto injury with no end in sight. It’s all too tragic and heartbreaking for words.
When it comes to looking after his children, the God of Abraham is doing a pretty lousy job, and has done so for a very long time. Seriously, after the Holocaust, I don’t know why any Jew would give the son of a bitch the time of day. The governmental bodies here on the ground have made little progress, and seem to actually benefit from this perpetual nightmare. Of course the “War for Profit Industry” always benefits from perpetual conflict. As far as any solutions being forthcoming, don’t hold your breath. Once I cross into Jordan, I am leaving this horror show far behind.