Jerusalem – Day 4

Jerusalem - Day 4

I officially hate Israel… I know it’s a harsh thing to say but my thoughts and feelings are very harsh right now. Guy suggested that this is more a learning experience for me.. that would be a gentle and positive way of describing my experiences so far. Thanks Guy for the positive spin that only a friend can give 🙂

In good news I managed to Skype call Craig. Couldn’t hear him much and he had to type lots, but we connected anyway and that makes me very happy. He makes me laugh like noone else too 🙂

Tomorrow we are leaving for Eilat via the Dead Sea and the Massada desert fortress. Hopefully I get enough sleep to enjoy it all. Meanwhile I’m rooting for Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the snooker world championship in Sheffield!

When I’m back in Sydney my first thing will be to cuddle up with Craig for a loooong time 🙂
Second thing will be to play some pool or snooker with Craig… looking forward to this! Simone won’t be far behind I hope 🙂

Last night it was 12C here in Jerusalem, tomorrow heading back to the 40C… wish me luck!

Jerusalem – Day 3

Jerusalem - Day 3

Managed to sleep in and leave my parents behind, yay! Walked in the Jewish and Arab quarters of the old city (walked in the Arab and Christian ones yesterday). Slowed down and got side-tracked in a shop by an Armenian guy called Sinai.

We had a long discussion and looks like my views on Israel and Jerusalem are shared. It was great to hear about local culture and what the young and cool get up to. We bonded over drug discussions, haha. No I’m not about to jump into that here but I will go out with him tonight to play some pool 🙂

Was very proud that I found my way home from his shop with just a bit of help from a simple map.

Lots of crazy programs tomorrow. I’m slowly getting into the rhythm of life here, but hating the place. Bought a beautiful Bedouin rag today… apparently it’s best viewed while on hallucinogens 😉 I can see why with its crazy tapestry of colours and patterns… like a nomad Bedouin map of the region from above.

Now I just need to chase up a calling card so I can talk to my sweetheart at home… seems difficult and I wish I could speak Hebrew! Will manage though, it’s a challange 😀

Jerusalem – Day 2

Jerusalem - Day 2

Had a long walk today through the old city and all the holy sites that will turn me into an atheist anytime soon… ‘born-again’ I guess though I’d hate to integrate religious expressions unless in order to mock. People keep asking me if this is my first time in Israel. Is there ever a second time?

Today our guide got flustered when arguing with an Arab boy who was aggressively controlling a small public square. Afterwards I told him that life in Jerusalem must be even more stressful than in Tel Aviv. To this he sighed and said:

Menashe: Life is always stressful close to god.
Me: Don’t know, never been close to god.
Menahse: When you are being watched over.
Me: Fortunately I’m not being watched over… but I guess it depends, if you are watched over in a protective fashion it’s good, if you are watched over and judged all the time it’s bad.
Menashe: you think too much!
Me: If you can’t think and make rational sense you are lost. It’s the modern gift of Enlightenment. Usually leads to ideas, knowledge, advancement and liberation.
Menashe: But beyond what we know you cannot grasp so you have to believe.
Me: Beyond what I know is the infinite that I’m in awe of.
Menashe: Awe is religion.
Me: No, awe is a state of consciousness. The difference is that religion leads to hatred, wars and killing, secular awe never does.

Other than finding Jersulem thoroughly soaked with a repulsive religiosity, violent politics and irrationality, I also find everyone very obnoxious (I guess they have to be to survive). Only a few US tourists manage to be even more obnoxious, egotist and inconsiderate on occasion. What a contest hey!

Everything’s still closed. It seems that although Jewish holidays rule, there is one religious holiday for every day if you look closely enough.

Today I saw the places where Jesus allegedly has been captured and tormented. Watching the locals carefully you can see that the agony has been elongated for thousands of year. If you can’t see it then at least you can feel it yourself. No wonder the place is crawling with Catholics looking for their next fix of suffering and repentence.

It’s funny to be standing on top of the Mount of Olives and looking over the old city walls. One of the main gates is believed to provide a pathway for the Messiah when the day of judgement comes. The oldest still used Jewish cemetery overlooks this scene. Then a Palestinian neighbourhood moved in to the gates, blocked the gates and put a cemetery of their own in its path, thinking that the Messiah cannot pass through that, therefore blocking the path of the Jews.

As you can see Arabs and Jews continue their mutual hostility even beyond the grave!!! Yep, this is how very very fucked the place is. Religion has nothing to do with it? Dear me.

ps: to my delight I managed to photograph the bum of a camel today… some of you might know I love photographing animal bits (fascinating and wrong, both good)… the camel looks like a very interesting design (acc to local joke it’s ugly and was obviously designed by a commitee). From close it’s not exactly pretty, but it manages to extrude very dry turds, which is an engineering feat in a desert climate. Now that’s 21st century water conservation.

Jerusalem – Day 1

Jerusalem - Day 1

I’m now wondering if this trip is going to make me an atheist… it seems that everything around me is challenging all the enlightened, rational, humanist, democratic values that I cannot go without.

Been to the markets today where I was the only person with legs showing. If looks could kill I’d be dead a hundred times over now. Dressed up ‘conservatively’ for the Wall, but was told to cover up my upper chest that was showing… I got so angry I put a shawl over my whole head and body like a burqa. If we are going fundamentalist at least let’s see it clearly for what it is: curbing of human rights, restriction of simple secular values, forcing conditions on others. It must truly suck to live here.

It’s now Shabbat so there’s nothing open (including many minds) I’m hoping to go for a day-long walk exploring the streets of Jerusalem and hope the local Amish will be praying somewhere invisible. I know it sounds arrogant but if you were here… you’d see what I mean. Israeli society is as far from an Enlightened modern liberal democracy as life on the Moon is. Except you wouldn’t expect that from microbes…

OK, angry Niko is signing off… time to watch some snooker and read 🙂

Bet Sheba – Bet Alpha – Jerusalem

Bet Sheba - Bet Alpha - Jerusalem

Visited a couple of archeological sites today… the most ridiculous was the site in the Jordan Valley where born-again Christians come to get baptised in the ‘holy’ water. Their bathing section had little fences like in the zoo for hippos… I suddenly felt like I was in a human zoo. Big business too all these ’emotional’ tourists buying dirty water by the bottle, paying for symbolic and imaginary things.

The Roman city at Bet Sheba and the 6th century synagogue with the hodge-podge mosaic in Bet Alpha looked vaguely interesting. Looked at a date palm plantation close up, pomegranates and orchards.

The 43C heat almost got me today… at one point I was so dizzy, nauseous, headachy and heat stressed I thought I might faint… but managed to survive in the end by making my whole head wet every 5 minutes. Don’t want any more heat!!!

Now in Jerusalem… at first it looks chaotic, rude and nasty, hope these are only superficial observations. Whole night I haven’t seen another single woman on the streets without a man, without several small kids and a pregnant belly. Obviously the state of Israel is competing with Arab fertility. The result is lots of frustrated and stressed couples.. guys who want to fuck me with their eyes and women who want to kill me. Lovely is what I call this.

I feel insulted, patronised and demeaned by the looks I get. So far nothing obviously nasty, just people trying to take advantage of me…

Apparently there’s an Israeli saying.. ‘I live if I bother’… in other words I am sure of my existence as long as I have inconvenienced someone or made them angry. I understand why this is the case but I find it revolting.

If only they knew about my life… they wouldn’t believe any of it. It’s simply beyond their world. I’m pretty sure which is the better one too.

Israel truly seems like an oxymoron… living in a horribly hostile world: surrounded by Arabs with weapons and living on a Moon-like landscape with barely any water… it obviously shouldn’t be inhabited, but… well, Isreal seems both inevitable and impossible. I think that’s the best way of putting it.

If I lived here I’d escape. I might struggle with my conscience but eventually I’d choose emotional, mental and physical survival, freedom, secularism and the kind of individual rights, space and standard of living that Australia provides. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why Israel is the way it is, I just can’t stand it personally.

Next 5 days in Jerusalem… not sure I can stand intellectually confronting either religion or the Holocaust… any ideas on where I can go to escape these and find intelligent progressive company? Please help! I’m sure it’s here I just need to find it.

Signing off… trying to be happy but feeling rather bitter sweet atm.