Ir David and Me’a She’arim

On our final day in Jerusalem, my family and I finally visited the City of David, which I had been wanting to go to for a very long time. I was excited and slightly apprehensive as the organization that runs the City of David, Elad, has a very political agenda and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable giving them my money.

Elad is an organisation whose stated mission is to “Judaize East Jerusalem” and has been behind the controversial eviction of Palestinian families within the City of David, which is in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. In recent months, a Palestinian community center in Silwan has been slated for demolishment to make room for a parking lot and tourist center near the City of David. This Palestinian community center was the only one of its kind in this neighbourhood. Elad has also backed the settlements in Silwan. Continue reading

Christmas, Yad Vashem and Haram al-Sharif

Christmas morning we woke up and it was raining. It was also a Sunday and thus, most museums were closed (though Sunday isn’t a weekend here, this is similar to how museums in the West often close on Mondays).  After much deliberation, we chose the most cheerful place we could possibly go on a rainy Christmas Day, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum), as it was one of the only places open.

We took the newly installed Jerusalem light rail, a 10 year construction project that runs from East to West and from West to East. Unsurprisingly, the construction of the rail, like much in Israel, was plagued by controversy as it passes through settlements in East Jerusalem as well as through Arab East Jerusalem. I also read an interesting Haaretz article about how the light rail served, in a way, as a connecting bridge between East and West, with the author observing Palestinian families who evidently didn’t often come into West Jerusalem take the train to the end of the line and then get straight back on a return train taking them back to the East, as if they were on a sort of sight-seeing venture.  Continue reading

Scattered events and thoughts

For some reason, in the last month I haven’t updated because life here has become normal. Before, every bar was exciting and every encounter was newsworthy. Now, I don’t know…

So I’m making a concerted effort to explain, in a manner which still makes things seem exciting, the day-to-day happenings of life in Israel. Right around my last post, about the stone-throwing incident in Jerusalem, it was Sukkot and various other holidays, which meant that there were lots of long weekends spent in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to one of my closest friends in the middle of last month. We sent him off with lots of hugs and alcohol and a good time 🙂  Continue reading

Hebron megapost and some Jerusalem

Before you start reading, I have to warn you. This post is long. And it will be riveting. It will also make you angry, sad, depressed, perhaps even bring you close to tears. The end will seem uncharacteristically light-hearted, showing, I hope, how life here can jump from one extreme to another so quickly. And I, as an outsider, as an observor, can look at this all semi-passively. Do not get me wrong, I was infuriated and deeply upset by what I saw this weekend, but less so than my Israeli friends. In fact, whereas my foreign friends expressed interest in my trip and wanted to join me, a large propotion of my Israeli friends did not feel the same way. It is different to them, they are tied to this situation, it is more emotional to see all the wrongs being done, more upsetting, especially because they disagree with it absolutely and – by all counts – fundamentally feel the same way I do: that the occupation is disgusting, unacceptable and a great obstacle to peace.

On Thursday afternoon, there was a terrorist attack in the south of Israel, near Eilat and the Egyptian border. 8 Israelis were killed and, despite Hamas’ statement that the attacks (which it did not carry out) targetted soldiers, the majority of the dead were civilians. Even if they had been soldiers, it would be unacceptable. Most people who live outside of Israel do not realize that the soldiers are people like you and I; army service here is mandatory. And as much as I respect refuseniks, I respect leftists who do their service as much because we need soldiers who hold those values. An army of only right-wing extreme-Zionists would help no one. It is also important to remember that these soldiers are young, often under the age of 22. In retaliation, Israel fired rockets at Gaza because the Israeli intelligence sources found that the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Sinai originated there. I condemn the attacks, I condemn the retaliation, and I condemn the Palestinian response which has been to send over 100 rockets into Israel over the last three days. Continue reading

Shavuot and Eastern Jerusalem

So the last week or two has been a little difficult. I’ve been battling with some homesickness and why-do-I-still-have-no-friends sickness. But I’m okay. Living at Marissa’s is wonderful, I love her apartment, I feel comfortable and at ease and happy which feels good.

Work, again, has been interesting. There are ups and downs, some days I get bored, but for the most part it’s great. And my bosses are absolutely lovely. Last week one of them told me to go to the Danish Embassy party at the Peres Center for Peace. The view from the building. OH.MY.GOD. It has got to be one of the nicest sea-views I have seen in Tel Aviv. The party was fun too, fancy finger-foods and weird contemporary dancers. My favourite part was this thing they had with mini-vegetables. The veggies were baby root vegetables (like carrots) stuck in “dirt” in pots. The dirt, however, was edible, and beneath it there was a green sauce – no clue what it was – that made the dirt stick to the veggies. It was so cool, like pulling the carrots straight out of the soil and eating them. Adorable! Continue reading

Camping and Palestine

The banks here in Israel suck. I’m just saying. When you withdraw cash you can’t even choose which account to take it from (Canadian chequing, Canadian savings, US savings). Come on. That’s the most basic thing in Canadian banking. Anyway, as a result I was left extremely upset and frustrated on Thursday afternoon and I was exceptionally angry. I hate having to think/worry about money. The boyfriend was kind enough to let me wake him up at 6:30am and vent to him. I do love him.

Thursday evening I hopped on the bus to Herzliya to meet Beny (aka couchsurfing respondant 1) to go camping on the beach near Kibbutz Magan Michael (I think that’s how it’s spelled) for some couchsurfing event. The beach was absolutely beautiful (photos next post, I promise!) and we slept out in the sand in sleeping bags (half my face is covered in mosquito bites). There was an eclectic mix of people there – some of the couchsurfers were very nice, others were extremely weird. My favourites were the young guys doing ulpan at the kibbutz, most of whom weren’t couchsurfers. Overall though, I can say I really went for the scenery. Oh, and of course, being me, I forgot the jacket that the boyfriend gave me before I left Canada on the beach there. Luckily the organizer found it and I should have it back next week. Continue reading