Really good article that explains about Palestinian Christians and Israel
Reading this makes me appreciate that Jericho is built on land thats completely flat.
All the towns I have seen in the non-coastal parts of Israel are mountainous.
So this is the view from the Mount of Temptation, now myself and Jeremy and Tim moved over to another part of the hill. Seems to be quite a varied range of fruit being grown in fruit of the mount too.
Given that Jericho is meant to be the oldest city in the world, it makes sense to start building on the most easiest terrain here I guess!
No churches in the sky here, just where you come up if you use the cable car, and a nice restaurants with amazing views, some of the caves here been given some clever uses, one of them is a bird aviary, another one shown closer below, contains things for sale in bazaar.
This was good time to get ice cream 🙂
At the foot of the cliff, I see this highly unusual bush. Since I have been in Israel, I have got to try various unusual fruits I haven’t seen before, but these green things are something else. They look vaguely citrussy but they are hollow and squeezable like almost flat balloons. Can anyone tell me what they are, are they edible?
Next, off to see a much larger tree, without fruit, but some quite exciting background!!
This looks like a normal bus, until I noticed the windows are thicker than normal when sitting inside, I think the wheels are larger. Reason being is this bus is intended for tourists going through more riskier parts of the West Bank, as the windows are bullet proof and has 6 tons of armour plating!
We visited a school, there is a small kiosk with an armed security guard there. In the past children have been particularly at risk from Palestinian terrorism. Everyone seems to know a family member or neighbour touched by tragedy in some way.
Here, this school runs different programs to help children that may have lost a family member due to terrorism, this one here is a room with special lighting and relaxing music.
I got to hear an amazing miracle by one of the residents of Shiloh, who was ambushed by terrorists, he was shot in the leg and his son in the neck critically. As rounds from an AK47 would penetrate a car from one side to the other and would disable the engine, he was praying as three times he tried to start the car which the engine would not turn over. After the fourth time the car ran, and was able to drive to a petrol station to summon help and get hospital treatment, later when the car was check by a mechanic which was full of holes, the mechanic said there was no way the car would run, bullets had penetrated through the engine casing.
Sadly, the mainstream world news tends to not hear about what happens in Shiloh, and instead refers to places in the Judea & Samaria area as settlements and that the land was obtained dishonestly. Here this particular town has a lot of history from biblical times, with significant finds dug up by archeologists here.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
One thing the critics of Israel like to point out is the concrete separation barrier in between the main part of Israel and the West Bank.
A tour leader I spoke to told us that the concrete wall only accounts for less than 5% of the fence in between.
Not so easy to see in this picture perhaps but there is just a chain link fence in between the Jewish orchards and Palestinian towns in the background, the silver things is some rows of fruit trees with plastic sheeting over them.
Here we are passing in a quite narrow strip of land in Israel parallel with Tel Aviv.
I have done some more experimenting with Google Maps.
Note – please press the [ – ] button to zoom out on each of these maps to get a better understanding of where you are looking at.
This line drawn across is only 8.8 miles this show how narrow this section of Israel would be in parallel to a possible Palestinian state, further down a bit is Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, this especially needs to be carefully guarded with the flights arriving and departing each day.
This map here shows the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Beer Sheva, both of these cities have been hit in recent months by GRAD missiles, these have a radius of 25 miles /40 kilometres. The diagrams show these cities are just in proximity of attacks from Gaza, now I don’t know where these are launched from in the Gaza strip exactly, so this is approximate but you should be able to get the idea, these cities are just about reachable by GRADs, and there is fear that other weapons could reach further in.
For those of you who think the middle east crisis can be fixed with a two state solution, I would advise you to check out this site, it shows how Israel’s borders are defended, and how a new Palestinian state is impractical as well as wrong I believe from a Christian biblical point of view.
I personally want to see safety and security of all people here, but I think its important know exactly the threats and practicalities involved here.
When I came back from Tel Aviv at the first day of setting up at the robotics event, I was sad to hear about the earthquake in Japan, and fear of a nuclear disaster.
Even more so as I have worked with at least 6-7 Japanese people in the last year and half.
The other tradgedy just after then was five members of a Jewish family were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist who broke into their house.
Only brief snippets of this was on the mainstream news, not mentioned much apart from in Israel news and Christian supporters of Israel was the fact that people in Gaza celebrated the deaths and threw candy at children in the streets. The news channels took the step of showing deeply upsetting pictures of murdered people, to try and provoke the mainstream media to encourage condemnation of these horrible acts.
This was more like a tribute event, rather than a protest, there were police here guarding the event.
Later when I went home, some police barriers were still there and some signs but the people had gone.
When I was a child, I had this dream where I was in a playground and all the other children had run off out of the school, I wasn’t sure what they worried about, I turn around and there is an evil robot coming towards me. It was a weird nightmare I had a few times…
Today I decided to take a ride around my neighbourhood of East Talpiyot in other direction away from Jerusalem city centre. I head to a convenience store and get a bottle of Fanta and ride back along the main road, towards the food bank which I work there typically one day a week. Anyway I am riding my bike across a junction where there are some traffic lights and I see a policeman stopping a coach and talking to the driver, he doesn’t see me and I ride past him, in the corner of my eye there is a policewoman and a police Ford Focus stopped diagonally at the traffic… Then someone yells at me STOP three times…. At the same time I hit the brakes when I see what is ahead of me… If you can’t see anything, look closer at the taller white railings. There is a garbage bin with usual piles of old clothes spilling out like I see on most street corners and about 15 metres ahead is a bomb disposal robot with caterpillar tracks and a single arm is analysing the piles of clothes…. I turn around and head to the opposite side of the road, the police don’t seem to be cross that I didn’t notice this road block. I get some pictures. The robot is partially concealed by the barriers in the road. Apart from my childhood nightmare turning into a reality, this experience didn’t worry me too much, there are all kinds of circumstances where items abandoned in odd places start a security concern and procedures have to done to see if there is a genuine threat. Its just I often see piles of rubbish falling out in bins like this. I talk briefly to two men sitting on a bench, its seems quite funny. I take a detour to another street to go south towards out of Talpiyot. Another 5kms or so down the road, and this is a nice view of a very new housing estate, my maps tell me this is called Homat Shmuel. A little bit further and now I am completely out Jerusalem and I can see the border with the West Bank.
This sign seems interesting. This is pointing the another biblical place, seemingly named after a king who was famous for killing babies. This adventure is for another day as I have no water left and ought to get back.
On the way back from Beit Shemesh after seeing the kids at the summer camp school, we had to take a road which goes through the Palestinian territories.
This journey is not a currently hugely risky one, but incidents do sometimes happen on rare occasions. So roads are designed to cope with potential sources of terrorist threats.
The roads that interconnect with Jerusalem have a few tunnels due to large number of mountains meaning roads in this country are rarely in a straight linear direction.
Of course going in and out of these parts means going through border controls, coming out of Jerusalem is simple, coming out of part of the West Bank means usually just driving up to a solider at a kiosk and a few questions are asked, I think people in vans are more likely to searched or have more questions asked. Cars with green licence plates (Palestinian authority) are not allowed out of the West Bank.
If this sounds like a hugely scary experience, its important to realise attacks on motorists are rare and you are only really likely to encounter hostile encounters in risky places like Hebron or Ramallah. This road is major route and I have been through these roads quite a few times now. More concern for safety for motorists is from accidents as the standard of driving is worse than a western country.
Really pleased (some of our bible study group prayed this week) that Mosab Hassan Yousef an ex-Hamas terrorist who turned to Jesus will be allowed to stay in the US, this is brilliant news, as it gets a chance for Arab people that have come out of the darkness of Islam to really tell the truth about what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza and example of the love of Jesus to touch both Jew and Arab.