ISIS poster discovered in Nazareth in 2011 by Google maps

Look at an old blog article of mine, and comparing it with a Google Steetmap view image from 2011.

This offensive banner arrogantly says not following Islam is for the losers.

But worse still, when I’ve been past this street corner three different times I didn’t realise the black logo with familiar Arabic on it.

ITS THIS LOGO OF ISIS.

Where as a politically correct thing people will say its only a minority of Muslims that promote terror the rest of the Islamic world will not challenge it.

Nazareth is an Israeli controlled city (not part of the West Bank) in the Galilee with a entirely Arab population, about 70% Muslim and 30% Christian.  I would say the Nazareth is still a safe area.  One of the hostels I did stay at was actually owned by an Israeli Arab policeman.    I think back in 2011 ISIS were not really known , so Israel’s police and security forces would remove such offensive posters, though not the idiotic banner above.

We are only saved thought Christ.   Not from being a cowardly liberal pretend Christian who think we are saved from being nice, or using a combination of bits of different faiths.

Muslims today have the freedom to reject this doomed system and accept the loving arms of their Lord and saviour Jesus, and more and more are doing so today.

Old blog post by me

https://britinjerusalem.com/2011/12/10/return-to-nazareth-2-the-uglier-sides-of-nazareth/ 

Advertisements

Return to Nazareth – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

Seems that I have neglected to write a conclusion to one of my previous trips, as this has been in the unfinished pile for about 8 months.  I passed this church on the bus out of Nazareth last time I came here, and was curious to know when a service was here again.

I have always wanted to find out where there are Arab Christians who are real spirit filled believers and love the Jewish people and Israel.  One is among my friends here, but how about in an mostly Israeli Arab city such as Akko, Jaffa or Nazareth, or even an a Palestinian city in the West Bank?   I was curious to know if a revival could happen in and amongst these ancient white-stoned buildings today.

I work for a Christian organisation that provides food to needy Jewish population as poverty is 23% in Israel, where as I take an interest in the Hebrew roots of my Christian faith, I do often think about what happens with Arab believers here.   I go to an active church in Jerusalem that is mostly Western in style although it has English and Hebrew worship music, there are Arab people there, and I live on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Talpiyot district which is just 50 yards away from Arab areas, and I pass through parks where I see Jewish and Arab people, so I feel an obligation to pray for both type of people.  I don’t think its fair to people to criticise Christians working with the Jews to not be interested in helping Arab people, any more than someone ministering to the Irish should feel obliged to reach out to the Scottish, after all we all only have so much resources!

My first time joining in some lively Arabic Christian worship music!

This church is fairly small but I think there was about 130 people there, completely packed full!   Quite a a decent sized number of youth too, there are a few British and American Christians also here volunteering at nearby ministries too, I got chatting to.   After the service I got a small tiny cup of Arabic style coffee which is just a reminder of the traditional part of culture here.

Why the ‘Today’s Nazerenes’ for the title of of this article?  –  well as well as the expected name for people who from Nazareth, either today or from the past, it is the Hebrew word for Christian, but these people seem to really fired up for the Lord even I was only able to hum along to the praise and worship!!

נוצרי

As a newbie Hebrew student, that’s Nun,Vav (a vowel), Zayen, Resh, Yod – ie pronounced: Natzari!   The names of the equivalent symbols in Arabic I think are very similar.

I now need to visit church with another type of ancient Semitic language, the Amharic speaking Ethiopians next I reckon!

I feel really blessed that the Lord made perfect timing for me to get here 5 minutes before it started.   I missed my last bus home, after asking some local people, they told me its best to get a taxi to Afula and get a bus back to Jerusalem from there.

After my disappointment in not finding many active Christians in the youth hostel, it was wonderful to find people worshiping Jesus in the town of his youth.

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

 

Return to Nazareth – 5. The replica village of Jesus

Ok the apartment blocks in the background don’t really ‘go’, but this is a garden is part of the museum with plenty of olive trees, is intended to show the outdoors to the visitor of being a neighbour of Jesus.

This actor is demonstrating looking after a flock of sheep and goats.

This tomb is quite a lot like the Garden tomb in Jerusalem, this one is a recently made mock up made to look like what a wealthy Jewish person would of pre-booked whilst they were still living, just like Joseph of Aramathea.

The carpenter’s workshop.   Here there is a selection of tools you often see by tradesman today, not shown is a drill which is a bit unusual as it requires the string to be turned using this bow type instrument to drive to tool into the wood.   Of course wood is relatively scarce in Israel, so some theologicans think that Jesus and his earthly stepfather Joseph actually did a lot of work with stone as well.

In another room, a local woman is spinning wool, and demonstrating how wool is dyed to get different hues.  Onions, pomegranates are used to get oranges and reds here.  The bible talks about rulers and rich people having clothing  of certain colours being a thing of expensive taste.   I learned today that wool with a violet or purple hue is made from certain types of sea-snails that had to specially imported which were costly to buy.

In a more recent (January 2012) conversation with the staff of the museum, I was sad to hear that the museum had be broken into and badly vandelised at the end of last year, there are still grafitti on some of the doors.

I will be honest, and say I was a bit silly and thought this building was a bath house!  Its actually a Synagogue!   Worshipers sit on the simple stepped seating that covers all around the room.  The front of the building is very plain without much decoration. I know there are some grander looking holy places from the same age, just look at Capernaum, but here Nazareth was a very small village back during Jesus’ time.

Its interesting to think, after the highly decorated design of the Basillica Catholic Church in Nazareth’s main city, that this is a much simple design of building where Jesus would of given his teachings then.

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

Return to Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves?

Firstly, don’t know if this has much relevance in Nazareth culture today, be in Islamic or Christian, but it made me smile anyway;

Ok, I am in wrong side of the country, as Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with palm fronds, although this looks like just a driveway into the side of someone’s shop.

As you can see, this house or business has palm trees put up in an arch over the drive way!

John 12:12-18
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” 14 Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15 “FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.” 16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him. 17 So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. 18 For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.

This act of Jesus and the people celebrating with the branches was a direct prophecy of this from the OT:-

Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Wonder if anyone could zoom in and translate the Arabic in the picture for me please? 🙂

Ok, maybe my imagination is probably working over time, but its interesting to see through the obvious and imagine what life was like, heck, I got to see an unusually large number of carpentry shops on my first visitto Nazareth!

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

Return to Nazareth – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth

Nestled in the middle of Nazareth’s high street I walked past the Mary’s well monument, this picture was taken from my first journey.  Now some of the grafitti has gone and some more has appeared, along with an official sign telling people not to drink the water, reason being is at the back of the monument there is a discarded big wooden drum for keeping electric cable, and lots of rubbish, and an odour hinting its been used as a toilet.  Sad that Nazareth’s iconic centre piece in the middle of the city isn’t respected by some people.

Back to old city streets:-

I went to the Synagogue church again, this is the place Jesus made his debut as a Rabbi, a teacher of the Torah as part of his youth.   Today there was a different door open with a talk being given I wanted to take a closer look but didn’t want to interrupt the teaching here.

I was kind of disappointed by the Vatican flag hanging up here.   I don’t really care for the oddball palace in Rome as it has little to do with the teachings of Jesus and doesn’t really fit in here.

In the market place there is everything from fruit, vegetables, home made olive oil, cakes, clothing, cleaning supplies and books on sales outdoors,

 

I was a bit perturbed by some of these, as you can see the middle ones look like they have more than a hint of antisemitism to them.   There was also people casually selling Keffeyahs, like I saw in Jericho, neck scalves made famous by Yasser Arafat, these tend to have a very political edge to them.

The youth hostel I mentioned earlier I stayed in is run by a Christin Arab family, its a beautiful place, there aremaps and guides available to plan what to see.  I didn’t see anything in the way of obvious Christian literature, ie: pictures of Jesus on the walls there, unlike Jerusalem its kind of interesting to hear Arab people speak a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic, but I was a bit annoyed that the local man on the desk seemed to use the Lord’s name in vain quite a bit.  Ok, they probably aren’t religious, there is a youth hostel in Eilat owned by Messianic Jews that does have bibles and Christian books there.   I am guessing if you go to a youth hostel in Memphis, Tennessee you would see photos of Elvis there I reckon!! 🙂

Some people may think I am being overly romantic about Jesus’s home town, Nazareth has an entirely Arab population and around 30% of these are Christians, but I was hoping to see more Christians, particularly people who could pray and intercede for people here, especially when you seen provocative posters put up like this.   Someone has tried to deface this quite recently it seems!

I would like this know what these posters say, I suspect they are just as poisonous as the previous above.   By the way, these are Christians from an African nation on a tour with nice tartan matching jackets.

Along with not seeing any of the visitors of Christian background at the hostel, many of the experiences of this day left me feeling kind of depressed.   Of course Nazareth is reliant on tourism and aspects of businesses here tend to be geared towards this, but this should be a special place, but churches seem like relics of history without any modern day meaning, Nazareth is important to our Lord Jesus and his Jewish upbringing, a lot of the things seem to be anything but.  Of course, there are minarets nearby, the tall very vocal prayer towers that Islam feels obliged to share with anyone else around.

Trying to sleep was an awkward experience, mainly because the beautiful old house that was a hostel had these big wooden shutters on the windows, and the heavy wind outside was causing them to bang loudly, getting up half a sleep to try and wedge them shut seemed impossible as the latches were broken.   Part of this I think was the Lord was prompting me to pray for my fellow travelers who had come from different backgrounds, a few with some mixed up views about their spirituality.

The Saturday evening meant I got to meet three chaps from New Zealand that were Christian, I was glad to see more believers here.

Am I trying to put Christians from visiting and show Arabic culture as being negative in a Christian light, no – some unexpected surprises happened as I will explain later….

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

Return to Nazareth – 1. The Fauzi Azar

This youth hostel is literally a palace!!

It looks stunning with its high painted ceilings and huge windows, the owner of the place who is the grand-daughter of Mr Fauzi Azar himself seems proud of this place and the fact its been voted the best youth hotel in the country.   Its little wonder that earlier this year on my first trip to Nazareth that it was fully booked up and I wasn’t able to stay before.  Interesting enough I was in the lobby reading a book when one of the staff of Lonely Planet was there to speak to the manager.

I got chatting to other travelers, which as well as of course finding out the countries we were from, where else we had visited and exchanging stories and inevitably our own personal religious feelings and our perceptions of Nazareth and Israel.

The two girls from Canada and Switzerland who I first spoke to were atheists, there was another girl who was a Christian from the US and was studying Arabic and seemed really fascinated with Arab and Islamic culture and wanted to one day visit Saudi Arabia.   I know of British people get well paid tax-free jobs in Saudi, I really do wonder though, if they realise the roles of men and women in the Gulf states are not the same as they are in the west, and some appalling human rights violations, particularly if anyone wishes to exit out of Islam for whatever reason.   There was another older British couple, which one of them had a large Pagan looking symbol on a necklace, also a young American guy who was working doing web design for the Fauzi.

There was a couple from Ohio in the US who said they were ministers from something called a Universal Unitarian church, and as I wasn’t familiar with this denomination, as a group of us were in the kitchen just chatting I asked them a few things, and found that they were originally atheists, and I was more and more concerned when they said they didn’t really read the bible very often, and didn’t believe in heaven or hell or even the trinity!   Seems that the Universal Unitarianism “church” or something like that, was actually a strange of cult, trying to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ faith combining elements of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions by ‘people-pleasing’, leaving God (the one of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) completely out of the picture.

I think this only causes confusion (no not Confucianism – haha!)  amongst the other guests who didn’t believe in God giving a very mixed up picture.

I didn’t want any theological debate, but I did let it slip amongst conversation of 5 or 6 of us in the kitchen there that I thought it was worth a mention that the previous week I got back ache from lifting boxes whilst helping out at the food bank which , and was completely healed two days later which I in no doubt give credit to Jesus.  Was kind of sad that there wasn’t more Christians visiting with a curiosity for famous home city of Christ though.

view out of a bathroom window, seeing the maze of streets of Old Nazareth

The family that own that house were Arab Christians, but I didn’t spot any kind of pictures on the wall or bibles or anything.   I did spot a strange “special offer” poster in the reception which gave travelers a free extra night if they had stamps in their passport from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon!!! I really can’t get my head around why they would want to do that?!?   Normal circumstances means you can’t enter Israel after visiting one of those nations, so I am a bit baffled.   Seems more of a case of thinking it is ‘clever’ to be rebellious over Israel’s strict but sensible policies on visas and entries I think??


I noticed actually only 3/4s of the Fauzi’s beautiful house is restored, there is one corner of a wing of the house that has no roof at all and you can see the sky through the missing window.   I think maintaining old buildings like this must be quite a challenge and monumentally
expensive.

Later on in the afternoon, I met three chaps from New Zealand, an older gent in his 70s and his two sons, they were doing some travelling around Israel, so I got a chance to hook up with them and head out on the town in the evening.   This was great I could finally meet real believers who had a curiosity for the streets of Jesus’s upbringing also.   I got to learn the father was a cancer survivor and had always wanted to visit Israel and his two sons had helped him achieve visiting here, so I was really pleased for them to come to the holyland for the first time, it was nice to sit in a nearby Falafel place and have a natter.

I spent a bit of time in the mornings out in the pleasant court yard taking advantage of the unlimited coffee and tea (especially with jars of mint and anise you can add to you drinks) and doing some reading of this book called ‘Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures which is written by a leader of a Messianic Jewish congregation and had some eye opening account into how Christ was not only predicted in Isaiah but also glimpses of him are seen in the Old testament too.  This book isn’t available from Amazon or from common distribution channels so I can’t really tell you where you can get it apart from doing a Google search.   I only got part way through it but have enjoyed what I have seen so far.

Anyway I can’t recommend the Fauzi high enough as a place to stay when visiting Nazareth, for its grand appearance with breakfast included and a free tour around Nazareth’s old city in the morning.

Did I find some spirit filled Arab believers in Jesus in Nazareth?   yes!! – I will explain soon!!

http://www.fauziazarinn.com/

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

Karmiel IT visit visit in November

In case you have just found this blog, I am a volunteer IT system admin person looking after the computer systems for a Christian charity in Israel with three buildings to take care off.   This building is special as its 180kms from where I normally work and I also go and visit once in a while when something urgent needs sorting out or I have a number of regular jobs to do.   I like this trip as it does mean I can combine it with a weekend away somewhere, like seeing Netanya, Akko, Nahariya, Cana, Tel Aviv, Nazareth or Tiberias and often stay with colleagues or friends close by.

I needed to do some more work at our food bank at Karmiel, a few jobs to do, mostly because of recent thunderstorms made the power go off causing all the PCs to reboot suddenly there, including the main servers and telephone equipment, this is not good as the UPS battery back up system appears to be useless as the batteries had not been changed in a while, they normally only last 3 years.

I get the new batteries from an electronics shop run by a Russian man and his wife, he has an amazing knack to talk on the phone in Hebrew and write in Russian at the same time!    I got someone from work to order the batteries (he doesn’t speak English) and I had them a few days later.

I don’t have a decent mobile toolbox, heck I don’t even have a car to get up there, I borrowed a old ladies’ shopping trolley off someone in our headquarters, put the new batteries and my tools and software CDs in there and took the bus up to Karmiel, I left at lunch time as the only bus that goes in a straight forward linear direction from Jerusalem to Karmiel is at 2pm.

Karmiel is quite different from Jerusalem.   Quiet, clean and orderly.   I have been to Wales a couple of times in the last couple of years, and Karmiel is quite similar, the city is surrounded by hills.

I got into the warehouse about 30 mins early and got into the wiring cabinet and disconnected the UPS systems, opened them up and replaced the batteries and quickly tested them.  The other jobs to do, was to do some site survey for a bigger UPS system but this needs a heavy duty shelf to hold at least 25 kilos worth of equipment inside a cabinet.  The cabinet will also have a 48 port switch quite soon.

Also needed, was to install the new antivirus application, this is the third time I have had do this, seeing as our AVG licence ran out, and I previously installed Bit Defender antivirus was terrible and never worked right, Panda antivirus (free for non profits) was ok but too basic and wouldn’t protect us properly from online threats, this time I had three years subscription to Avast so I could get this installed and not have to worry about it for a long time!   Not only was this over 50% saving of the licences compared to Bit Defender, it saves a lot of time having to carefully test and plan installing this all over again now we have it for 3 years.   Normally you can install antivirus using remote software like VNC, but I wanted to do in person, in case in crashes the server it would not be easy to sort out from 180kms away.

Last thing to do, was set up a nice HP Officejet printer in an office, the desk on the user’s PC is very cramped so I put it in the corner of the room and switched it from USB to network connection, so it can be shared among multiple staff and I can see if it (and all the other PCs, servers and printers online and working using my Spiceworks remote software.

Once I got a whole days’ worth of work done, I took the friday off, saw my Messianic Jewish friends who moved from my town of Portsmouth to close by in Karmiel, Israel, which was really nice to see them, I got another early morning bus at about 8.30 over to Nazareth, my second visit to Jesus’s home town to go and stay in a legendary mansion converted to a youth hostel.

Check back soon!

Journeys of Jesus – Travelling between Nazareth to Jerusalem

Revisiting part of my trip to Nazareth from a few months ago.

In my job I often have to go up to a warehouse in Karmiel, a large food bank which supplies food for the poor in the greater Galilee area, to service computer equipment which requires me to visit every so often.

One of the unique things I like about my job is going to visit this site to do a few days work and doing some sightseeing around the Galilee, meaning I can see Nazareth, Cana, Akko and Tiberias not too far away.   As there is no dedicated IT person based up there, so maintenance requires a fair bit of planning if I need to take a laptop, tools and software CDs, this means I am doing a 2.5-3 hour trip up there from Jerusalem, which makes me think is a trip Jesus would be very familiar with, although Karmiel is much further up than Nazareth.

In Matthew 20: 17-19 the scriptures talk about Jesus “going up” to Jerusalem even though its south of course, part of this is to do with the high elevation that the city is on as well as its great significance for Jewish and Christian people alike.

Getting to Nazareth is quite easy on an Egged bus or even with this above Nazareth based coach operator.

Being in the middle of the Galilee region of Israel, there aren’t railway connections here like all of the (Ashdod / Ashkelon / Herzilya / Yaffo / Tel Aviv  / Netanya / Haifa / Akko / Nahariya) coastal cities have in Israel.

I often think about how often Jesus himself traveled between the two locations, if I were some other kind of mobile tradesman and lived here before cars and buses, there is a number of challenges, stopping for food and where to stay overnight, risks of attacks by bandits/robbers, extreme heat, mosquitos, having enough (3 litres a day per person minimum) water for the journey, steep hills, presents all manner of challenges.

I am wondering if people at the time of Jesus owned camels and donkeys or if they were rented.

 

Arab people in rural parts of the country may have camels (which are still expensive today)   or ancient Peugeot 504 pick up trucks are the other favourite, this one is full of sheep.

Some historians have said it takes 3 1/2 days by foot to go from one of these famous cities to the other.   I thought I would do some research.

Here is a map I have made with Google Maps,

You can get a closer look of this Google maps anotation:

This distance of 103kms (64 miles) one is ‘as the crow flies’ and goes across the separation barrier that fences off Judea and Samaria, what we know today as the West Bank.  (contrary to what you see in the media only 5% of the boundaries of the West Bank is concrete wall, the rest is a chain link fence)

I have only just noticed when doing this, the line passes straight through the West Bank city of Nabulus.  Given the highly mountainous terrain of this country, its unlikely it would be as simple as going via a compass back in Jesus’s time, there were plenty of political issues back then don’t forget, some places would not been safe then, especially given Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan, a Jewish man robbed and beaten up was cared for and put into a hotel for the night by a kindly stranger who as a Samaritan an ethnic group then enemies of Jews.

Closer look of this one also:

This one was suggested by Google’s planning system using today’s actual roads albeit a lot longer way around, without going through checkpoints, is quite a bit further at 151km (93 miles)

Look at the link and see carefully the main roads in Jordan, and the shape of the borders between Jordan and Syria create a pattern which looks strangely symmetrical to the route I have sketched out.   Quite bizarre.

To be honest though, its hard getting an idea of time and distance of going to and from the two great cities by foot or donkey in any more accurate terms given the challenges or land boundaries, steep hills and uncertain historical road systems, but I think it gives you a little bit of an idea.

Nazareth – 13. Easter service at the Basilica

I didn’t find  anyone from the youth hostel who wanted to head into town that evening, so after an afternoon of looking around shops and reading a book in the lobby, I headed out and saw lots of people flocking towards the Basilica church.

This was the service for Easter Friday.


The outside of church seems very busy…

Inside, the place was packed!  all of the seats were taken, and people were in all of the aisles and blocking the door.
The surprising thing is the vast majority of people appeared to be young Arab Christians under 30 for the service, no foreigners as far as I could see.  I have no idea what was spoken in the service as it was all in Arabic.

A statue of Jesus was brought out of the service at the end.

Outside there were lots of people who couldn’t get in the service, they seem very friendly and most spoke English, a lot of the Arab Christians had non-Arabic sounding names, ie: Simon.Musicians where getting together for a parade outside..  Hang on surely, these aren’t bagpipes??

Whats this?  Its the flag of Christian Arab scouts of Nazareth.

The scouts are getting ready to do their bagpipe playing at the end of the Easter service!   Actually an Arab friend of mine told me that bagpipes are not that uncommon in the Middle East, there are bagpipe players in Jordan who play for the King there.   Maybe the Arabs are wannabe Scots or perhaps during the British Mandate of Palestine period, Scotland influenced people then? 🙂

The statue is taken on a tour around the city.

So was the Easter service a nice yearly social knees-up or the were the mostly young Arab Christians there praising the Lord on the weekend of his resurrection in the very town where Jesus spent his youth?   I am not sure but this was an enjoyable end to my trip to Nazareth, and despite only 15% of the town being Christian it was good that Easter was celebrated (actually there were no chocolate eggs for sale anywhere)  and this didn’t seem like a big show for tourists as there simply weren’t any around the town.

Seems like the modern day people of Nazareth are proud of their city.

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica

Peace monuments in Israel part 1

Back in the 60s and 70s, the word ‘peace’ was a greeting used by hippies, I wonder if they got the idea from Jews and Arabs who have used it as a regular hello in their respective languages for a few thousand years.

Just lately I have found it interesting with seeing examples of false peace here in Israel, not just what I see on the news.  Normally its from other nations who are asking the State of Israel to compromise with its security arrangements and borders, but there are some other things as well.

In southern England, around the countryside there are small buildings we called ‘follys’, they are buildings that where made with no specific purpose whatsoever, they were just made to provide a centrepoint on the hill above a village or mark a land boundary and to provide employment for local labourers.

In Nazareth, I saw a slightly odd aerial shaped monument next to the precipice.    Now the precipice is a hill which was meant to be where people tried to throw Jesus off that got upset by his teaching in the synagogues.

On top of here looking south you can see a spectacular view over Megiddo and Mount Tabor.   One is the place of previous wars and a future one planned for the end of the world, and one is a possible location of Jesus’s transfiguration.   On the other less steep side of the hill facing northwards is a TV aerial shaped thing at the front with a series of concrete steps to sit on which looks like a pleasant place to watch a concert or (small) sports event.   The paths that lead in between the step have rough gravel on them, certainly no good for people with baby carriages or wheelchairs.  It looks unfinished and rushed to be honest.   If I remember correctly this project was a gift for peace to the people of Nazareth from the Pope and the Vatican in circa 1997.   Having said that, the view up here is terrific, and it would be nice to see some live bands up there, but I didn’t see anything on any posters about any live music scene.  If you are interested in my travels to Nazareth, start here on part 1 of my trip the city of Jesus’s youth.

In Sderot, I went with my friend Daniel from work with one of his community projects to a small town that most of you will know gets used as target practice for terrorists in Gaza.   These poor people live with worry of being next hit by Katusha rockets.   Next to some fields and an army base on a hill I can see directly into Gaza less than 1.5km away.  Up here is a giant musical instrument, with some chime bars and a hammer thing on a piece of rope you can use to ring as a ‘peace’ gift for Israelis and Gazans.   I don’t remember who made this thing, but it a novelty chime instrument doesn’t help people having to rush into bomb shelters especially when they happen when their kids go to school.

Jerusalem is the same.   Near my house is the UN headquarters, and close to there is a monument with some inscriptions in English, Hebrew and Arabic, probably say people need to give each other a hug or something.

Closeby is the Haas promenade, there is a really nice place to walk along the side of the hill which attracts Arab and Jewish families having picnics and foreigners on rented electric Segway chariots. On the paths that go down, is a few peace monuments here, these actually look quite decent that are designed a viewpoints over the city.

That is until you go up the steps to view out of them, there is graffiti inside them, and smells of that they have used as a toilet.  One of the monuments that was a gift from Canada, has some wooden steps that go sideways onto the path.   Trouble is most of the wooden slats of the steps you can see below are missing, as someone stole them probably for firewood for their barbecue.

Ezekiel 13 : 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.

Really, these buildings from foreign nations trying to help Israel, seem like nice gestures, but are not implemented well and are a bit shortsighted in their actual useful value.   Its a bit like getting a present of a picture of an ornament you don’t really like and having to put it on the wall when you friend comes round so not to hurt their feelings.

 

Other examples of false peace are so called authorities that provide prizes or bestow awards, such as PLO chairman Yasser Arafat who got a Nobel Peace award in 1994.   Also a well known ex-Palestinian terrorist who wrote a book about accepting Jesus, has be spoken about as being a fraud as still hating Israel, after some things spoken about recently in Arabic appears to be different from the story he originally gave in his book.

Architects seem to like create buildings for peace purposes that don’t quite yet have a proper purpose to them.

My thinking is if you want to do a tangible construction project for peace purposes maybe start with something that has a social benefit like hospitals and schools.  I really like the Magon David ambulance service which I think is entirely funded by foreign donations, but assists Jewish, Arab and foreigners to Israel if an accident or emergency happens.

I am really proud to part of Bridges for Peace, true, our two food banks won’t win any design awards, our headquarters looks lovely and has a wonderful garden but is tucked away from the public with an electric gate, and my role is in a backroom to look after resources and equipment, but the works we do impact the poor people in this nation, as well try as close as we can to follow the actions of Jesus in this land to the most needy.

Jeremiah 8 :  8-12 “‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,”when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? 9 The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped.   Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?  10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners.  From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.  11 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.  “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.

It smells nasty in this look out post, signs of arson and grafitti, not all of it bad though!

My point isn’t to poke fun too much at efforts to make peace between nations, but for me, true reconciliation will only happen between Israel and the Arab neighbours will happen with Jesus’s return.

Part 2 of this article is here: