I really really dont like to lie, but once in a great while, there comes a time. In this case, it was for the sake of seeing lots of cool countries, who unfortunately wont let you in if youve been to Israel/Palestine/whatever you want to call it.(for us, Syria, Algeria, and Lebanon all would not have let us in–Libya too, but they wouldnt let us in anyway)
First off, an apology to all of the people, friends at home and abroad, who we lied to. We just simply had to do it. Whether true or not, we’d heard stories of random people overhearing that a traveller had been to Israel, police somehow finding out, and then the person was kicked out of the country. We just couldnt take the chance, so we decided ahead of time to not tell anyone.
So were gonna flash back to November 2006, and post some of the pics and observations that have been hidden on various hard drives, far from the eyes of border officials locked in one of the worlds most complicated conflicts.
We were only in the forbidden lands for 3 nights. First, one night in Ramallah in the West Bank, where I interviewed Sameeh Hammoudeh, a former Tampa resident who was the victim of a Bush administration terrorist witchhunt, only to be cleared on virtually all charges. You can read the article I wrote by clicking here. You can read the article I wrote by clicking here.
Ramallah is the biggest city in Palestine. We sadly arrrived too late for a hip hop show by DAM Rap, a rising star in the Arab and western hip-hop world. But we got to walk around a bit, see posters of Martyrs and Arafat (who had his PLO HQ here), and get a little feel for the town.
Walking down 2,000 year old streets, white stone polished by eons of feet like ours, we saw pilgrims carrying giant crosses reenacting Jesus’s last walk thru the city. We tried to tell the difference between the long-bearded and head-scarfed Jews, Muslims and Christians, but they all looked alike to our untrained eyes. It was a bit overwhelming.
and later in the day, thousands of jews praying at the adjoining Western(Wailing) Wall (aka last remaining wall of the 2nd Temple). ***see the comments on this post for some background on how the name ‘wailing wall’ is controversial.***
Just around the corner is the Church of the Holy Sepulchur, which holds not only a stone slab on which jesus’ dead body was supposedly lain, but also the cave where his tomb is located. Pilgrims Galore!
Ive gotten alot of feedback that people dont like long rambling blogs, (and thats part of why they enjoy ours), so although the opportunity is ripe, I wont start spouting all the thoughts and feelings that came from visiting this holy and controversial part of the world. As Ive said before–ask me in person. Ill just say that while beautiful and full of energy, its difficult to have hope about the future of this place. People have so much attachment, and have fought for so long over it, its hard to imagine they will ever stop fighting. En sha-allah i will be proved wrong.
(JESSICAZ recommendation: SHARE)
I also regret that we didnt return to the area when we were back in the neighborhood this past august, but our schedule and finances just didnt allow for it. I would like to go back and spend more time.
Back to December 07(now), and speaking of LIES,
click here to read this article I wrote that just came out–its about Americans who lie when they are traveling and say they are Canadian.
If anybody has thoughts, dont hesitate to post them here, or underneath the story itself.
I promise those Bosnia pics are coming soon….