Independence Day in Israel

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Flag of Palestinian Territory  ,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I always find the birthdays with the 9s in the end harder than the big ZERO ones so this year because I am 59 I wanted to do some things that would make it a meaningful year and help to move me into my 60s (yikes, it's comes faster than I can imagine!)  So here I am in Ramallah writing a book about the impact of the Friends Schools -- and when I read that Monday was the beginning of the BBQ season because it was Independence Day in Israel, I knew I had to be in Jerusalem.
As a child, I remember identifying with the country of Israel because we were both born in 1948. I never gave it a thought that there were people already living there and that the war of Independence caused far-reaching problems for many civilians.  I just knew it was heroic, that Paul Newman played a leading role in the movie Exodus and that as a young teenager, I was horrified when I read the book Exodus which talked about the Holocaust. I was raised a Christian and wanted Jesus to return - and one of the signs that it could happen soon, even in my lifetime, was the creation of the state of Israel. And I remember all the talk of the Six Days War in 1967.
So yesterday the border was closed to Palestinians but others could cross from Ramallah into Israel.  At 11 am I boarded the bus and we were off, through the checkpoint easily, and nearing Jerusalem.  There were many Israeli flags waving on buildings and even from some cars. 

As I entered the Damascus Gate, I took the first left and headed for the Wailing Wall.  It seemed like the place I was to be that day.  I walked right though security and was on the plaza in front of it - with the Muslim call to prayer being aired through the loudspeakers over my head. 

I entered the women's side, found a chair in the shade (it was hot!) and read Psalms.  The women around me were all intent on their prayers.

Next I had shopping on my list, but I got lost (the Old City is a maze of streets that even with a map is a mystery at times).  Suddenly I knew where I was, the plaza outside the entry to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Figuring that God must have had a plan, I went in and spent some time in confession and prayer.

Then on to Christian Quarter Road for shopping, except the stores I wanted were not open! The owner of the jewelry store was there and he ordered a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for me and asked me to accept his hospitality.  I asked how the heart operation went for his son.  He said very well.  His son was only in intensive care for 24 hours, rather than the 2-3 days they expected and he's home recovering now.  

No shopping accomplished but a good day spiritually.  I waited for Alan Dynes to pick me up and we went off to his apartment where Holly and 10-month old baby Carys awaited us for dinner.  Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, asparagus and a salad -yum! Home cooking!  I interviewed Alan and Holly for the book after dinner since they had worked for three years as teachers and Alan is now on the School Board. (And it's hard to find Quakers to interview!) Thanks for the great time! (Photos coming on Sunday when I'll see them again at Ramallah Friends Meeting!)
Alan had had a hard day because a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in a village just west of Ramallah was killed by the IDF. When I read the news report today, it said he was shot in the stomach and an ambulance was denied accessibility to him for treatment until too late.  
In this land there is such a need for peace, for tolerance, for forgiveness.  And all the time I am here, I continue to be awakened in the night by shooting, yet feel compassion for the young Israeli soldiers who are so frightened themselves. I am growing so much.
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