Thursday, April 07, 2016

Things I Slightly Disliked About Israel

The "Russian Compound" is the name of the neighborhood where I stayed in Jerusalem. Those window shutters are made of solid iron.
"Hate" is a strong word, these are really more things I kinda disliked a little.

The Wall
Commonly called the Separation Barrier, this is the wall that Israel has built to prevent Palestinian terrorists from crossing from the West Bank into Israel to kill civilians. I understand the purpose and it seems to have accomplished its goal as terror attacks in Israel have been reduced significantly since it has been built. But that doesn't mean the wall isn't obscenely ugly and reminiscent of Berlin in 1964 or Warsaw in 1942.

For the second half of my visit to Israel I was hobbled by a mild case of the flu. I really can't blame Israel for that, I probably caught it from another tourist at my hotel's breakfast buffet. It was mild enough that I soldiered on through the symptoms although it did suck the energy out of me making the gentle slopes of Jerusalem seem like towering mountains.

Three Nights

The old city and the Dome of the Rock.
I didn't give myself nearly enough time in Jerusalem, just two days and three nights. Add in my flu companion and I missed a lot. I am going to have to return and give myself a full week in the City of David.

IDF soldiers guarding a Jordan River baptismal site.
You quickly get used to armed soldiers patrolling "soft targets" in Israel. Soldiers patrol the pedestrian promenade on Jerusalem's Jaffa Street, I watched one sipping a smoothie while she walked. I watched a children's Purim party in the Old City being guarded by soldiers carrying automatic weapons. Soldiers with weapons are a common sight on public buses. The reason is understandable. Unlike the United States where Muslim terrorists will attack once every year or two, such attacks are common in Israel. I guess what I hate is that Israelis have to defend themselves this way.

What I didn't see was untrained civilians packing heat, like say in Texas, because that would be fucking dangerous.

Stone Walls and Iron Doors
The entrance to my Jerusalem B&B apartment.
I can't speak for all of Jerusalem, but in the Old City and the older neighborhoods to the west of it most of the residences are made of one meter thick stone walls with iron doors and window shutters. When these buildings were built wood was a rare commodity. Also, stone and iron were safer materials in a city that, during the first half of the twentieth century, saw frequent rampaging mobs of religious zealots.

Still, when your tiny 13 square meter studio apartment has thick stone walls and an iron door it kind of feels like being in a prison cell.

Dead Camera Battery
My DSLR camera battery died while I was in the Old City and, of course, I didn't have a recharger. Just another reason to return to Israel soon.

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