At the Jerusalem Mall

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

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

At the Jerusalem Mall
Last week I went into Jerusalem in order to witness the Ascension Day activities since it was a school holiday.  So I went in the afternoon before so I could get an early start the next day.
With time on my hands and it looked like rain, I decided to check out the Jerusalem Mall.  From the Old City it is a distance so took a cab.  It was Jerusalem Day, the 40th celebration of the end of the 1967 war where the Israelis pushed back Jordan across the Jordan River and occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  So it was a big sidewalk sale day at the mall.
I heard a couple of young girls talking about Burger King so I found the food court and there it was!  I haven't had a good hamburger since I arrived so I felt like Wimpie, ready to do anything for a hamburger,  Alas, the burger was grilled but the cow was very old and it was very greasy - so I;m still dreaming of a good hamburger like Wimpie.
But while I was eating, a woman came and sat across the booth from me since all the tables were full.  We began talking and she said her husband and she had come to Israel 55 years ago in 1952.  Originally from New York, she had raised her children and now her grandchildren lived in the Jerusalem area. 
She asked me what I did and we began to talk about spiritual things.  She remembered a retreat she had gone to in Scotland where the woman led times of meditation and referred to the "Christ within."  She felt excluded because she didn't have Christ within; she was a Jew. She expressed that to her leader, So we talked about the Light within or the Inner Light. After talking for awhile she asked where she could find Quakers in Jerusalem and I said the closest Meetinghouse was in Ramallah.  Of course, Ramallah was out for here and she said, "Why don't you stay and lead a Quaker meeting here in Jerusalem?  It is a message all faiths can hear and respond to."
Later I caught a taxi and the woman driver and I began talking.  She was originally from Morocco and was a Jew who went to Jerish schools there. Other students in her school came from all over the Middle East, including Iraq and Iran, etc.  She asked me why Arabs didn't seem to value education like the Jewish people.  We talked about the Ramallah Friends Schools.  And she responded, "look at Gaza since the Jews left.  They can't run their country." 
We also talked about the situation in Jerusalem and her response was that Jerusalem should be an international city where all faiths could live together in peace. She agreed that the majority of people in Israel wanted to live in peace, but that there are fundamentalists on both sides, Jewish and Arab, that don't want to allow that to happen..
Along the way we left off a passenger and picked up another, a young girl in her 20s.  The driver told her what we had been talking about (in Hebrew) and the girl turned around and told me her story.  She had lived in a settlement in Gaza since she was a child.  When she was young, Arabs worked in her family garden and were employed in other ways. They lived together in peace.  A few years ago, her neighbors were murdered by Arabs and then they had to leave their home when Israel left Gaza.  She talked about leaving behind a water purifying system and other infrastructure and how the Arabs destroyed these things after they left. "Why?  What was the sense in doing that when it would have benefited their people?  Once I lived in peace with my Arab neighbors and they were my friends. But after they murdered my neighbors, I hate them."
I just wanted to share the stories of people from Israel who have deep hurts and many questions too about the situation, about what their government is doing and how all three of these people long to live in a land of peace.
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