A Week in Israel: It’s Complicated.

A couple of days ago, we visited the ancient city of Jerusalem.

To kick the day off we went to Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. On the way there (because I’m cynical like that) I remember thinking, “Well, I’m not sure what’s so special about a zoo…”

Except as the zoo director told us, “Jerusalem is complicated.”

The zoo in Jerusalem is special because it’s pretty much the only place in the city where the whole population – Muslim, Jew, Christian – can come together in one place. Many cultural attractions are off-limits to the Orthodox Jews because of religious doctrine, which forbids them from praising anything other than God’s creations.

What I’m beginning to realise is that Israel as a whole is complicated. Far more complicated than I imagined before I came here – you expect to see uneasy divides between the Jews and the Muslims here, but what we’ve learned is that there are a hundred different interpretations of Judaism – while one Jewish friend sits and eats with us, another will sit but not eat because the restaurant doesn’t have the right level of kosher approval. Another friend can’t come into the restaurant.

We’re being hosted by a non-political organisation but everything is political here. We drive into Jerusalem past a tent outside the Prime Minister’s house that’s occupied by an Israeli family. They have lived in that tent for five years, providing the politician’s with a daily reminder of their son, who was kidnapped on the West Bank when he was 19.

When we tour Jerusalem, we stand on the roof of the building where Christians believe Jesus ate his last supper – in the distance are houses and towers – and an incongruous grey fence snaking through the desert, splitting communities in two.

Reminders of the fact that Israel is divided – inside and out – are all around us.

We are seeing so much, meeting so many people, discovering so many new ideas that I can’t blog about it quite yet. It’s something I need to absorb, and think about – because I want to do justice to the truly AMAZING things we’re being shown every day and night. Oh, and the food. The food is out of this world. Or 'end of the world' as the Israelis would say. 

Today I'm especially wiped out as last night was White Night – a festival invented for no reason other than the fact that people wanted an excuse to stay up all night and party. There were concerts all over the city, the shops were open in the mall at 2am, kids were breakdancing in the streets and it was all quite, quite mad. 

So for now I will just leave you with a few pictures of our day yesterday – this will give you an idea of just how much we're seeing and why my head is kinda spinning right now. 

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IS01 Pic2
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About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

13 Comments

  1. 1st July 2011 / 8:17 am

    Yeah….you mirror exactly how I feel…
    And, hey, where was the vetting?????? 😀

  2. Phil
    1st July 2011 / 10:37 am

    Just found this blog. You shall now be known as Sally of the Holy Sepulchre after the weird coincidence of meeting you outside Jesus’ last gaff. By the way I hear that I have been described as an IT Journalist!!! The shame!!! Hope you have a safe journey home.
    Phil (of Cath)

  3. susie@newdaynewlesson
    1st July 2011 / 10:58 am

    Good way to describe Israel-amazing and complicated.
    What your trip has made clearer to me is that as people we are all truly the same. Not just in Isarel but around the world-we are all people with our our trials and tribulations, our own aspirations and joys and we are all doing our best.
    (Btw the phrase is Sof Haderech-which means end of the road-not end of the world although when you are stuffed it kind of feels like the end of the world)

  4. susie@newdaynewlesson
    1st July 2011 / 1:58 pm

    Me again-I also did want to add something about the kosher.
    There is glatt kosher(super stringent supervision), Rabbinate kosher (certification from the local rabbinate), kosher without certification (meaning products are kosher plus no mixing of meat and dairy and no non kosher food but open on sabbath and therefore unable to receive supervision and certification) and then there is simply non kosher. The restaurant in Jerusalem was completely non kosher-mix of meat and milk as well as shellfish which is not kosher at all.
    A reason why someone who holds kosher may not even go into the restaurant is more for the way it looks-people may think they are not eating kosher or others who know they hold kosher may mistake them being there for the restaurant being kosher.
    As you said, complicated. 🙂

  5. 1st July 2011 / 2:12 pm

    Sally – I’ve lived here for 23 years and you’ve summed it up after less than a week – complicated and amazing. Enjoy your Friday night dinner tonight. – Rachel

  6. 1st July 2011 / 9:21 pm

    Ah, you know us journos – never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?

  7. 1st July 2011 / 9:22 pm

    Ah, the reporter said he would translate it as ‘end of the world’ – different people, different versions, maybe?

  8. 1st July 2011 / 9:23 pm

    Thanks Rachel, it was SO lovely to meet you x

  9. 1st July 2011 / 11:05 pm

    I have been to Israel and it is very complicated, I love the pictures and can’t wait to read more once you have digested it all xx

  10. 4th July 2011 / 10:06 am

    I agree with kerry complicate damazing and it touches you to the core so ancient somany human tragedies so much resilience glad you had a good time

  11. 4th July 2011 / 12:48 pm

    Oh yes, it’s really complicated even to find the time to describe how complicated it is… 🙂
    kisses and tears from Madrid 😉

  12. 4th July 2011 / 10:47 pm

    Kisses and tears right back at you, my lovely x

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