Jerusalem, Old City


Jerusalem Old City

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel’” Benjamin Netanyahu

My first trip to Jerusalem was in the seventies. My parents always paid for an Israel extension to my self financed Europe trips. I think they were hoping for an Israeli son-in-law. Our days started at the Jaffa Gate near our hostel. We would meander through the Old City in the heat of summer and end up at the Damascus Gate or the New Gate. You could wander back and forth through a stairway in the Western Wall. We walked in and out of the mosques, often just to cool off and enjoy the peaceful feeling inside.

When we got to the meat part which was deep in the market, I was always ready to turn back. It was the first time that I saw raw, dead animals hanging outside like that.There were a lot of flies. It was hot and smelled bad. We were allowed everywhere. One day, a young  Arab boy decided  to be our tour guide for free. He took us walking on the walls above the city. I remember that he said that they were the only red-headed Arab family in the market.

The Arab souq was our favorite huge shopping labyrinth to get lost in. They sold beautiful handmade backgammon sets, religious artifacts and boxes made from olive wood, interesting jewelry, worry beads, scarves, clothes and evil eyes. The bargaining was half the fun (even though we just got it down to the real price in the stores) “We dont hate the Jews,”said the people in the market. “It’s the Zionists we don’t like.”

On my first trip, I did not blame them. The Israeli boys we met were aggressive and the girls were mean to us. Cheap college day tours took us all over Israel from Jerusalem. We met a lot of Americans doing the same thing. The second summer I met nice Israelis. We truly believed that there would be a lasting peace.

I resisted coming back to Jerusalem for many years because I did not want to see what was happening. The Arabs and Israelis did not learn how to coexist. Now Israel the hero of my childhood, is seen by many as the oppressor. For some reason, they have more UN human rights violations than the most corrupt, brutal, sadistic, child army, third world nations. Israel wasn’t the attacker in the 48, 67 and 73 wars. They defended themselves and won. Isn’t that what happens in a war? Governments get land and young people die or get injured. The Palestinians like the American Indians had unfortunately lost the claim to their land from the British before Israel became a state. Israel built their country from nothing just like America did. It seems to be a hopeless situation now.

They call it apartheid by choice. There are Arab speaking schools and Hebrew speaking schools. The Arab schools are divided into Muslim and Christian schools.

The Hebrew Schools are divided into Orthodox and Secular Schools. There are divisions between the divisions. There are a few mixed schools.

I think those who call it South African apartheid have forgotten or never knew what South African apartheid really was. Yes there is prejudice on both sides  and many problems but it is not that.

The holiest city on earth is even more divided on my return many years later. It is still living as one but with a lot of new rules, security and boundaries.

This time, I am staying at the beautiful King David Hotel. As we enter the city from the nearby New Gate, Dvir, our tour guide, tells me that there is still only one red-headed Arab family in the market.

Fly safe,






Who Are We Fighting? Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Nigeria etc

Who Are We Fighting? Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Nigeria etc

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. ” Tim O Brien, The Things They Carried

I was at a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles ordering a coffee. A woman was arguing with the cashier. She was blond with a British accent. She was angry because she wanted to put her chicken in the refrigerator while she drank her coffee. They explained to her that this was a kosher coffee shop and they could not take her food in the refrigerator. Now the reality is I don’t think any restaurant in America can put your personal food in their refrigerator due to Health Department reasons. She became very angry and yelled in my ear (I was next to her) to “Tell the rabbi to go f-ck himself.” I said that I preferred not to hear anti-Semitic comments while I was ordering my coffee. She replied quickly that I should “Go bomb Gaza.”

I don’t understand. The Palestinians know they are in the middle of a war and that Israel is targeting certain areas. Why are their children on roofs playing with pigeons? Why are they running around in the streets? Why are they not evacuating their homes and schools and protecting their children? We keep seeing horrific shots on CNN of children being killed and hurt . As a parent, I would put my kids safety first, no matter who told me to stay.  Israel does not want to kill their children. They just want peace. They want the rockets and terrorism to stop. But it seems that Hamas is not protecting the people of Gaza and is more concerned with blowing Israel off the face of the earth. How do you solve that?

A passenger airline carrying two hundred and ninety eight passengers, eighty of them children, is shot down over Ukrainian air space. The bodies fell out of the plane along with toys and personal belongings. They fell on the children’s orphanage in Torez. It will be a sight those orphans will never forget, -teddy bears, dolls, those beautifully made European toys and naked bodies with their clothes blown off in the blast. The world is shocked but the war will still continue in the Ukraine.

In Nigeria it has been one hundred days since two hundred girls were abducted from their school by the Boko Haram terrorists.  The International Community is horrified and it seems we can do nothing.

And what about the children in Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria? And before that in Rwanda, Liberia, Libya,  Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina? And World War II?

Are we still fighting the children of the world?  Have we learned nothing from the past? Will innocent children always be casualties of war?

I can only feel compassion and hope that others do also. Hope is the only thing to hold onto when everything appears so dark. Life looks like a mess right now in our world. But as human beings, we have the capacity for goodness. We have the ability to think and talk and that has gotten us into trouble. We can only hope that same ability to think and discuss will help us find peace.

Fly safe,