During its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times and captured and recaptured 44 times. And it shows, for example, in the bullet holes from 1948 by Zions Gate built in 1540. But mainly it doesn’t show, which might be my main point.
What there is to see in Jerusalem is often what you don’t see— the long-gone ancient temples, palaces, marketplaces. In a timeline that will boggle the brain, most of what was built here was ripped to shreds by invaders. You walk around suddenly very aware of the empty space. Blank sky or rearranged stones that once were feats of engineering and centuries of history.
By the way, the rearranged stones I’m talking about are Jerusalem stone. All white. So it’s very easy for your minds eye to see the blood on them.
Here’s the difference between a visit to Jerusalem and one to Paris or Istanbul or one of the old norse temples nestled between trees. In Jerusalem, I did not experience that moment… the one where suddenly you’re overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty that humans can create. Where faith and ingenuity of our ancestors shines through the centuries.
In Jerusalem, one aspect of human nature overshadowed the rest: testosterone-fueled aggression justified in the name of something that sounds noble. As a general statement, I’d say the place is chock full of all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
I walked around feeling dismayed, disappointed, horrified… so much nasty zealotry, so little time. Wait, scratch that. So much time. You can't chalk it up to an anomaly.
Shrine enclosing the grave of Jesus.
Various priests and clergymen from various denominations
bicker over who gets to go in with the incense.
|Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the Dome of the Rock. |
You have to be able to recite the 1st chapter of the Quran to get in.
I don’t mean it wasn’t unforgettable and staggering to take in. You can read a page of the Bible and see where, exactly where, the scene described took place--- It was right over there that King Solamon did this or David did that or Helen built the church. It was right here that the Romans or the Byzantines or the Canaanites built their homes or the aqueducts a millennium ago. Or five millennia ago. That kind of old is unfathomable. Our guide was a veritable encyclopedia on two feet.
|Insanely ancient place... It's possible that King David |
(ie David from David and Goliath, that David) lived around here.
|This might be the residence of Helen |
who built the Church of the Holy Seprechur
Our trip was like Israel 101- the crash course. I feel like I should get a certificate. Or another one of those Jerusalem bagels.
|Jerusalem bagels were pretty awesome.|