Jerusalem Today and Yesterday
Meet Noam (our guide) and Moti (our amazing bus driver). Noam is a secular Jew born and raised in Israel. He had three children, all of whom either have served or are serving in the army. He has the look of a Mossad agent to me. Moti has a sense of humor and thinks we are wasting our money on bottles of boutique Israeli wine.
One of the real benefits of this trip is the opportunity to hear presentations by people in the Israeli government and in other positions in Israeli society. We heard from two members of the Knesset who are strongly pushing the peace process, but who unfortunately are not from the major parties.
Today's first speaker was a historian who suggested peace would occur naturally on a 10-year trajectory. The bottom line is the Arabs must accept the terms of an agreement and he thinks the climate for that is improving. The second speaker was from the Israel Religious Action Center. She is devoting her life to things like making sure women can sit anywhere on public buses, Reform Jews are recognized in the State of Israel, and non-Orthodox marriage is recognized. It's an uphill battle in a country ruled by the ultra-religious.
Our first stop on the bus was at the newly renovated Israel Museum, where out of half a million objects of historical and artistic significance 6,000 are displayed. The most intriguing exhibit is of the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in an area near the Dead Sea in 1947. They provide strong evidence of the existence of Jews in this land 2,000 years ago. They reside in the above building whose white dome represents the lid of the urn where they were found.
But in the scheme of things, 2,000 years is nothing. There are other antiquities dating back as many as 250,000 years. I always say that a trip to Israel redefines the meaning of the word "old" for me.
I found the above photo by Adi Nes quite compelling. It is a rendition of the Last Supper, with Israeli soldiers as the figures. His message was perhaps that no one can be certain of anything past the present moment. How true.
We enjoyed seeing a model of Jerusalem from the time of King Herod. We had first seen this model at the Holyland Hotel, where we stayed in 1978. It has now been moved to the Israeli Museum, where it is constantly evolving as archaeological finds dictate changes.
Here is Israel's version of the Chicago "bean" in Millenium Park.
From the site of the City of David, currently under excavation as many sites are, we could look out into mostly Arab neighborhoods within the city of Jerusalem. It becomes increasingly difficult to understand how this city can possibly be partitioned. A lot of things are complicated here.
But one thing that is not complicated is the idea of recycling, about which the Israelis seem as fanatic as are the Germans.
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