Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sunday Snippets

It was to be our earliest day, to stand near the head of the line at the security gate leading to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The day before, we'd visited the Western Wall and noted that the line was almost out the city gate, three hours deep.

"I'm not spending your time in that line," our guide insisted. "We come early tomorrow." We were in line by dawn.

View to the south east

Right before 7:30 local time, a number of armed police passed us. I assumed they were reporting to work inside the Kotel area. Then my oldest son, Kenny, noticed another batch of police carrying riot helmets. Still the security gate did not open to us and I grew impatient. Shortly after, we heard what sounded like gunfire from the Temple Mount area. Birds flew away, startled by the noise.

Near-deserted Western Wall

I muttered casually to myself, "If that's going on up there, I don't think I want to go." The sounds of gunfire were prolonged, lasting maybe 20 or 30 seconds. After a minute or two of silence, our tour guide gathered us and hurried us through the Kotel area, to an arch leading to the Old City.

Old City - children walking to school

We found ourselves on the Via Dolorosa and, after seeing ambulances in the streets, we hurried into the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. Our guide took some time on his cell phone to assess the situation. He said the word on the street was that settlers were bringing an Israeli flag onto the Temple Mount and that Jordan is pulling out from Temple Mount custody. In the absence of any facts, that's the classic scenario, serving as a shorthand for ultra-Orthodox aggression. Every Arab's worst nightmare and every Dispensationalist Christian's wet dream. It proved too good to be true.

We managed to remain in the Old City when many other guides took their people out. However, we did not go to St. Anne's as planned because of its location on the eastern side and its proximity to the Temple Mount. Instead, we literally picked up a cross and, taking turns, walked the Via Dolorosa to the Holy Sepulchre Church.

My son passing Ecce Homo Convent on Via Dolorosa

Shops in the Old City were slow to open Tuesday morning and a police presence was noted on nearly every corner. Our guide said that so long as school children remain in school, things are alright. They are the canaries in the coal mine.

"The pictures used to seem exaggerations--they seemed too weird and fanciful for reality. But behold, they were not wild enough--they were not fanciful enough--they have not told half the story." - Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

"Police, Palestinians clash on Temple Mount" - Jerusalem Post, 2/25/14
"Israeli police and Palestians clash on Temple Mount" - BBC News, 2/25/14
"Israeli Police and Palestinians Clash at Temple Mount" - NBC News
"Officers injured, three arrested in Temple Mount clashes" - UPI, 2/25/14
"Israeli police, Palestinians clash on Temple Mount" - National Israel News, Haaretz, 2/25/14
"Police to Limit Muslim Access to Temple Mount" - Israel National News, 2/28/14
"Netanyahu defends status quo on Temple Mount" - WND

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to go to Israel someday, but these are the stories that make me think I might never must be amazing there, though!