3 months spent in Jerusalem, with primary aim to observe Christian Palestinian Easter traditions... and then to witness all that involves being in a country longer than your typical tourist visit would allow... Results vary =) +
One of the popular tourist sites in Jerusalem is none other than the Mount of Olives. Indeed, this is the area where tourists—as well as locals—love to take that ‘signature photo’ of Jerusalem with the Old City and the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the background. Just below the balcony, you can also view the numerous Jewish graves and the golden domes of the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene on the right side.
The last trip I made during my stay in Jerusalem was to Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba in the West Bank. But these days it might be a bit difficult to find these locations under these specific names. These towns were captured, depopulated and destroyed during the 1967 Six-Day War. On top of where once rested the Palestinian villages of Amwas and Yalu, there is now Canada Park, funded by the Jewish National Fund of Canada. Beit Nuba is now Mar Haven settlement.
What did I see? Lots of greenery and open spaces, with the highway stretching nearby... Of course, trees everywhere, and quiet places to roam through… It seemed like a simple, peaceful place where visitors could enjoy themselves, but I’d have to say I didn’t really feel like I could do this there, or even if I should. Although concealed and unkempt, I saw remnants of Palestinian life there, as the remains of 2 wells and a cemetery showed…
And cactuses… Lots and lots of cactuses. I normally wouldn’t think twice about the abundance of these… Until I’m told that cactuses were used by Palestinians as a kind of ‘fence’ between other towns—in lieu of walls—as well as around towns; thus requiring everyone to enter through the city’s main entrance.
Imwas… or biblical Emmaus. Said to be the place where Jesus appeared to two of his disciples following his resurrection.
Was it the place I visited? Does it matter? And then again… how would we know ‘for sure’? Especially when I hear that there are 4 possible places which could have been ‘that’ Emmaus…
I came, I saw, I reflected… I did share time with caring people of various backgrounds while there, even had a hot dog and sat on a bench with the day’s last sunrays right in my face.
Was it a ‘picnic’? Perhaps, although it felt more like a little church service, what with the prayers said, and traditional Arabic songs sung to commemorate previous, unmentioned Palestinian life on that land…
Brief visit. Yet duration is not necessarily tantamount to impact and/or significance. +
My slideshow of a few photos taken there:
A short documentary in 2 parts, posted on YouTube: