Saturday, November 24, 2012

I've been trying....

Hey, just so my faithful blogger readers know, I have been trying to add some blog posts and new pics (I have some great pics of a trip to Samaria, and of a prayer walk around the Old City and some other things)...however, google says I have reached my storage limit on photos and now need to pay to add more storage. Well, ok, I have been trying to increase my storage limit, so I select my 'plan', but when I click on "continue to checkout" NOTHING happens. I have tried multiple times, but so far no luck.

Sooooo, I just wanted you all to know I have completed this semester's schoolwork. I have packing and cleaning this weekend, then Michael and 2 friends (Kenda and Rhonda from Arizona) arrive on Monday. We will see Israel together for 10 glorious days...I do hope to be able to post pics of our travel together. We will be flying home together, arriving 12/7. If anyone has any ideas about how to add storage to google, let me know:)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Trip to Ramallah - Palestinian capital

It's time for my field study for my "Palestinian Society and Politics" class.  Today we are travelling to the West Bank, to visit the huge city of Ramallah, which is the headquarters for the Palestinian government (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority. This pic was taking while sitting on the bus, waiting to leave...that's the walls of the Old City and the Tower of David, near Jaffa Gate.
 Ramallah is not too far north of Jerusalem. Here is the checkpoint we need to go through to get into the city.
 On the other side of the checkpoint, you can see the security wall behind the traffic, a huge wall that was erected in the early 2000's to decrease terrorism and suicide bombings.
 As we came into the city, the professor was explaining that there is a lot of dust right here. We are near a quarry that digs out huge limestone blocks that are used for building in Jerusalem. So the dust is from the quarry. This pic was taken while passing a car junkyard and all the cars are covered in this dust. I don't know, it just seemed to represent something about Ramallah to me.
Now we are inside the wall...take a look at the graffiti, expressing a lot of emotions and frustration of the Palestinian people.
 Passing a beautiful fruit stand. This lady is keeping the street clean in front of her shop, which is commendable because there was a lot of garbage everywhere else.
 I don't usually take pics of garbage, this was taken looking down from the bus, but there was so much litter everywhere when we were first entering the city. It just seems so strange, why isn't this picked up??
 The first thing we did in Ramallah was attend a mass at a Catholic church. Our professor is a Palestinian Catholic, so that's probably why. He wanted us to get a sense of the Christians in the area (who are a minority - only 2% of the population in the West Bank are Christians, the rest mostly Muslim)
 The sanctuary was beautiful, the church was full, the singing was really nice with the acoustics in there.
 We are walking back to the bus for our next destination. The man in the suitcoat is Dr. Sabella, our Palestinian professor.
 A scene out of the bus window....yellow taxis EVERYWHERE!!
 Now we will visit the "Palestinian Legislative Council" (PLC). This is the legislative branch of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization - the Political entity of Palestine), and the building where Dr. Sabella works. He is also a member of the Palestinian Parliament of the PLO, very involved in government.
 The "PLC", I am wondering what will happen here...this should be interesting. By the way, this is a glass door, and something is in the sky in the reflection...I don't know what that is, does anyone have any ideas??
They brought us into a huge conference room, complete with drinks and pastries. We are about to hear a speech from a PLC member.  He is anxious to talk to the Americans about their position.
 But first, there's a TV crew there who will be filming the interview (and us:) They are asking Dr. Sabella who we are and what we are doing in Ramallah and at the PLC.
 This picture is right behind our chairs....look familiar to you?
 So here's Dr. Sabella with "Jamal Abu Alrub", who discussed the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with us in Arabic, and Dr. Sabella interpreted.  Basically he said how disappointed they are in the US and how they have stood with Israel, and seemingly ignored the Palestinian plight. He talked about their plea at the UN to be recognized as a state, but how US has blocked this. He feels that since the US has so much influence on this situation, that in effect the US is illegally occupying the West Bank, not Israel. During a time of questions and answers, I asked him what should happen to the West Bank Israeli settlements should a 2-state solution be realized..He answered me that they are all illegal per international law and all would need to be disbanded. (From 30 settlements in the early 1970s, West Bank settlements now number 121+, and the Israeli settler population is more than 300,000. An additional 17,000 Israelis live in the Golan Heights and 193,000 in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their future state).
 Next to Arafat's pic, is Mahmoud Abbas...he's the current leader of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.
 I'm posing with Jamal after the interview.  He is very intense and passionate and about the Palestinian people. There is certainly no easy solution to any of this.  He also told us that he is suspected by Israel of terrorist activity, and that they won't let him leave Ramallah except on very rare occasions. Dr. Sabella told us he was involved in the 2nd Intifada of 2000, i.e terrorism. Seemed like a nice man to me...
 Our class outside the PLC building. This was an experience that most tourists don't get, that's for sure.
 From the PLC, we travel to a luncheon back at the Catholic Church. They are hosting a discussion by a group of Italian agriculturalists who have done research on 8 ancient olive trees at the Garden of Gethsemane back in Jerusalem.  These are the 8 oldest olive trees in the world. They are estimated to be slightly less than 1000 years old. What they don't know is how old the roots are....none of the trees date all the way back to the Jesus' time, but it's possible that the roots do, so they are still researching this.  This picture is an Italian Catholic priest who is interpreting into Arabic what the Italians are saying.
 Here comes the lunch!! It was this Arabic pizza thing with onions and spices on it  that was so delicious.
 Onward ----we go across the street o Al-Haq - a Palestinian Human Rights organization, funded by the United Nations.  They investigate (using field workers) any infraction upon the rights of civilians in the West Bank and Gaza and the write up extensive reports about it, often sending them to the US Media.  They say there has been a huge increase in 'settler violence', meaning acts of violence by the Israelis from the settlements in the West Bank against the Palestinians.
 The 2 Al-Haq employees who spoke with us. Definitely very pro-Palestinian, He told us several stories of atrocities that have been committed against Palestinians by Israelis. Of course we didn't hear any of the opposite. There are no end to the complaints against Israel for their illegal 'occupation' and infringments against the Palestinians.
Walking down the street on a search for an ice cream store. It's Sunday, and this pizza shop is closed, but the name of it caught my eye....
We found the ice cream store!!  Arabic ice cream has a different texture than American, more sticky rather than creamy, but very good!
 Walking down the city streets of Ramallah, I looked up to see these guys watching us pass by.
Lots of congested city traffic.

 Three Palestinian young women on their way to somewhere.
 Don't ask me why, but here it's "Stars and Bucks", not Starbucks (lol)
 Three women stop to talk as we pass,  still walking back to our bus.
 A man on the sidewalk is playing a crudely-made instrument, hoping to sell one. Wasn't my kind of music, but added to the 'ambience' of our stroll.
 Another entrepreneur on the street is drawing a portrait.
The last stop of the day was at...Arafats tomb!!  That's it that square building at the end where the wreath is. The site was not opened, we were told we couldn't come in by the friendly looking soldier. This is a brand new complex of his tomb and a large museum about Arafat that was donated and paid for by..... JAPAN.
 Well, this has been quite a day. The sun is setting in Ramallah, and we need to get back to Jerusalem. It may take me a little while to process everything I have seen and heard today.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Old City Walls Park

I wanted to show you some pictures of the walls of the Old City which are along the walkway I take to get up to the Jaffa Gate. Over the past couple months, they have been turning the outside of the walls into a park, adding landscaping and informational signs about the history. The current walls were built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 1500s,but much of what you'll see is much older than that.  Here I am standing next to the western wall of the Old city, and you see David's tower on the left, which is at Jaffa Gate (one of the main entrances into the city). And there are some tombs on the right at the base of the wall.
These doorways are entrances to tombs that are REALLY old, dated to the first temple period, around 600-900 BC
You can enlarge to read more about these tombs and see what they are like inside.
I'm looking up at a huge tower, it is amazing to be standing right next to these magnificent and ancient walls.
This picture/sign shows the layers of time and civilizations that you can see in the walls. Enlarge this to see..
This is the view of the wall right behind the sign above, the view the drawing is portraying of the different layers of time.
Standing next to the wall, I am looking up the road that goes toward JUC, the walk I have taken hundreds of times.
Here we learn about a hidden gate that went directly into Herod's palace. Enlarge the pic to see where the red dot is.
So here is the place of the "red dot" on the diagram above. You can see the lower part of where the gate  into Herod's palace was imbedded into the reconstruced wall.
Now I am looking down the road toward the Jaffa Gate. The Old City is on the right, and the New City on the left.
The road back to JUC, paved with stones that are not very ancient:)
The view opposite from the city walls as I begin to walk back to JUC.
A final look at a tower from Crusader times. No matter how many tmes I see these walls, I think they are beautiful. They look so many different colors depending what time of day it is, and they seem to want to tell you stories and secrets of time past.  In the middle of the tower you can see an opening just large enough for an arrow or the muzzle of a gun.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cable Car Museum

If you haven't already, go back to read my blog from 9/12 - about the Cable Car Story (scroll down to bottom of blog and click on September, you will find it). That's when I first introduced you to the cable car and the long cable that stretches all the way across the Hinnon Valley, from a hotel right next to Succat Hallel (24/7 house of prayer) all the way to JUC, above my head through my bedroom, and anchors in the hallway outside my bedroom door. Today I went to visit the Cable Car Museum that is in the hotel. Here I am walking past the Hinnon Valley, which the cable stretches over.

(Just to remind you, this is what the steel cable looks like coming through my bedroom...)
 Here's the museum!!  This cable car was secretly used by the Israelis in the 1948 war of independence to transport back and forth weapons, supplies, and the wounded from Mt Zion (where JUC is, which was a military outpost at the time) across the valley to an eye hospital, which is now the Mt. Zion hotel.
 The hospital was the British Hospice Ophthalmic Hospital of Jerusalem.
 Here's the equipment/winch that was used to hoist up the steel cable after dark and transport the cablecar across the valley. Before dawn, they would lower the cable to hide from the Jordanians.
 Closeup of the winch.
 Soldiers using the winch in 1948
 Click on this to enlarge this information so you know more about the cable car project....fascinating!!
Here's the inventor of the cable car system....Uriel Hefez...he looks pretty intelligent, don't you think?
 This is the view through the window where the cable car is hanging.
 The cable stretches from the window, through the museum to the winch.
 View through the (somewhat dirty) window in the museum of the cable car and cable stretching across to JUC on Mount Zion.
 Photo of the inventor with a couple of soldiers next to the cable car.
 Looking down from the hotel into the Hinnom Valley.
 Looking slightly to my right, the Hinnom Valley is winding around...that's Silwan village straight ahead, and the Mount of Olives is way up on the left side of the photo.
Now I'm standing outside of Succat Hallel, looking up at the cable car.
From Succat Hallel, a bird is perching on the cable that connects my bedroom to the Cable Car Museum!! :)