Visiting Jerusalem, the Old City, was powerful and sobering. So much ancient history, so many stories, hopes and many dreams…this is where so many important events occurred in the Judaeo Christian faith.
It’s easy to see why the Jewish people would want to return to Israel, the land God gave to them, and Jerusalem, the site of the temple, but it doesn’t take a religious person to see and value the importance of this land to the Jewish people– they lived here for thousands of years, why wouldn’t they want to call it home again?
The Old City, is divided into four inequal “quarters” the Jewish, Christian, Muslim (largest) and Armenian (smallest) quarters and they were not difficult to distinguish by the end of the trip.
I toured the old city about four times, but still didn’t see everything. In one of the most powerful tours of the old city, our guide took us to not only ancient historical sites, but gave us a perspective on the boundaries of the Jewish state in modern times, before the old city was in Israeli hands and when the green line defined the border of Israel.
Sure Ive read modern history, but to see it first has was unique. The green line was apparently a war zone, with a middle “no man’s land” zone where gun shots were frequently exchanged, and death by a sniper’s bullet awaited many of those wandering into this territory until 1967 when Israel was given control.
We also visited the Mark Twain museum in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem with our Jewish guide, learning about how one of America’s greatest authors helped shape the view of Israel through his newspaper stories compiled into Innocents Abroad, shattering the idea that the Holy Land was a romanticized utopia, while trying to paint the [few] Jewish inhabitants and Arabs fairly, though seemingly impacted by the prejudices of the time.
Perhaps the most impactful non-religious part of my tours through the Old City, was seeing Israeli Zionists who reclaim land in the Muslim quarter to integrate cultures. To do this, Israelis must purchase a home from Muslims (and Sharia law mandates a death penalty for selling property to non-Muslims) and move to the Muslim quarter, where, with the political tensions of the middle east, there’s high risk in moving to that area. But young families take the risk and choose to do it anyway, not for self-gain, but for their country.
For me, this passion for the Zionist movement is remarkable and one of the many cultural angles I fell in love with. Few Americans have the same desire and drive to make their culture more integrated and move out of their own neighborhoods to impact the culture of their nation. Yes, I am inspired by the Jewish people and truly admire them!
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces.’ ” – Psalm 122:6-7