Adventures at home, abroad, and online

Category: Childrens Crusade Page 3 of 7

Italy to the Holy Land, and then on to India


Crossed the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge again yesterday, and just made it across. I have to learn not to travel on the Sabbath in this place. Then we took a taxi to Amman, where we ate a good cheap dinner and collapsed. Amman really isn’t such an interesting town, but we needed to go through it to get here. Took a really early flight to Beirut, and made it through immigration without too much trouble. We are being put up by Jared’s friend Shireen, who is staying in her Aunt’s fabulous apartment. Going to a beach party tonight, so we’re all catching up on rest beforehand. We’re all experiencing pretty severe culture shock, coming from Palestine where women are all covered to Lebanon where it seems anything goes. It’s also amazing that we are only a few hundred miles from Jerusalem, and yet it took us 24 hours to get here. What seems like a small part of the world is not always so easily traversed.

Bedouin Water Tour

Went on a tour of various Bedouin villages, focusing on water issues and run by Bustan. These villages are not recognized by the state of Israel, which is conducting an urbanization campaign. Official policy is to move people into newly developed towns in order to provide them access to government services. However, this is backed up by harassment, including repeated home demolishing, against people who are full Israeli citizens. While Bedouin villages are denied access to water, Jewish towns only miles away have green lawns and sprinkler systems. The health consequences of reduced access to water is obvious, but it causes Bedouin infant mortality to be around 15 per 1000 live births, three times higher than that for Jewish babies.

What really disturbed me about the tour was that the same set of restrictions and discriminatory are placed on the Bedouin as the Palestinians, even though the Bedouin are full citizens of Israel. Because this issue has none of the international legal complexity as that with the West Bank, the only reason for these policies that holds together is simple racism. And in a country that prides itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East, that is simply unacceptable.

Bedouin Boy on Donkey
Old Bedouin Man


Jared took me to Hebron today, to see one of the most divided cities in the West Bank. Jewish settlers there have moved into the old part of town, where there has traditionally been a Jewish presence. However, the violence between the settlers and the Palestinians, originating from both sides, is such that the Israeli army has the town in virtual lockdown. There are checkpoints everywhere, and we were blocked from walking down some roads. We did get to see the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Leah are buried. The cave is covered by a large complex built by King Herod, with a basilica above that, half of which is Jewish and half is Muslim.

"Greater Israel"

The rhetoric from some of the settlers is pretty ridiculous, including this map of “greater Israel”, which extends from the Sinai to Turkey. While it would have made this trip easier, it’s this kind of extremism that makes me wonder how this situation can ever be resolved. It’s also interesting to note that the founder of the modern Jewish settlement in Hebron is Moshe Levinger; probably the most famous owner of our moniker.

Separation Barrier

Banksy 2

Walked along the wall in Bethlehem today, and took some pictures of the graffiti that covers it. Most of it is actually by internationals, not local Palestinians. Still, I am quite enamored of the Banksy stencils.

The impact on the neighborhood is hard to overstate. There are places where the wall curves around a single house, encasing it on three sides. Any businesses near it are closed, and the streets in Bethlehem are quiet because the tourist trade cannot reasonably function under these retrictions.

Shatter Tower
Reduce, Reuse, Resist

In Palestine

Made to it Jared on Sunday afternoon, and have been enjoying a slightly slower pace since then. We went to a hippy farm party the first night, and enjoyed roast chicken under the stars. Yesterday I did some needed visa acquiring and ticket booking in Ramallah, and visited Arafat’s tomb. At night we drove to the Dead Sea, where we floated in peace, despite the nasty water and mosquitoes. Today we walked around an abandoned military base near Jared’s apartment, until he was called away by news of a new attack in Jerusalem. Being an intrepid journalist, he responds when duty calls. Still, it’s great to spend some time with him in his new turf.

Jared got mudded
Dead Sea lounging
Abandoned Israeli base

The plan now is to go to Lebanon on Saturday, spend a few days there and then try the border with Syria. Lonely Planet says that anyone with a valid Lebanese visa can cross the Lebanon-Syria border and get a Syrian visa issued there, for an extra fee. This assuages one of my concerns, so it looks like we will start our “axis of evil” tour after all.

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