I've been meaning to post photos but have been a bit busy with Servant School matters. We completed our first year (aspirancy, for those of us seeking diaconal ordination) with a retreat over the weekend. So far, I haven't had a weekend without something going on related to work or deacon formation. Busy, busy.
Anyway, one thing a traveler to Israel will encounter are reminders of the War of Independence and of the current tensions, even if you're no where close to the Palestinian territories. For example, a peak outside the hotel-room window from the David Intercontinental will show you two reminders of such a events.
Right next door to the hotel is a mosque. I have commented to a number of friends on this mosque, but I had no idea of its significance until just before I left on my latest trip.
During the War of Independence (or the Catastrophe, which is how Palestinians and even some Arab Israelis refer to it), snipers would get in the minnaret of this mosque and fire at the people in Carmel market, which is located only about 1000 meters from the mosque. This is the Hassan Bek Mosque, and it's actually located in Jaffa, which is now part of the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo. It's still a matter of contention, as the Wikipedia story indicates.
In the background, you can see another important site, the Dolphinarium. I meant to get a better shot, but here's one from the Crown Club lounge in the hotel.
On June 1, 2001, a Hamas suicide bomber detonated his charge outside of this disco, where a line of teenagers was waiting to enter. There are businesses operating there, but it still looks like a war zone.
I would have liked to take pictures of some of the memorials of the seige of Jerusalem along the pass at Bab el Wad. However, I haven't had a chance to drive directly to those locations. This page on Latrun shows one of the destroyed vehicles you might see as you drive up the pass.
Another interesting site is in Jerusalem itself, just north of the Old City. It's the Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame, which was built by the French during the 19th century as a hostel for pilgrims.
During the War of Independence, both sides soght to control it, since it was built like a fortress. As you look at it now, you can see where the west wing was rebuilt with very new stone following its destruction by the Arab Legion during the war.
I recently read about some disputed properties in Silwan, which is an Arab neighborhood southeast of the Old City. Apparently, the name comes from the Greek word, Siloam. I mentioned previously my walk through the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Siloam. Anyway, the news reports I'd heard indicated that several Arab homes were bulldozed. Destruction of homes used to be the penalty for families of suicide bombers, but in this case, the city of Jerusalem claimed that the homes had been built illegally. I'm in no position to say one way or another. However, when I walked through the Kidron Valley last July, this fenced area was not there, or at least wasn't in the form it was this time. I suspect that the bulldozed homes stood on this plot, but I'm not certain.
I managed to get up close and personal with the Pillar of Absalom, and the tombs of Hezekiah and Zechariah. I'll post those soon, along with a shot of the Valley of Hinnom from west to east. Believe me, it doesn't look like fiery Gehenna anymore.