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Some local Israel insights

Though this is primarily a history blog, I thought my readers might be interested in some things we learned regarding Israel the last time we were there (June '23).

Hamas is a terror organization headquartered in the Gaza Strip. They are violent and funded by the Iranian Government. We see the numbers of dead and wounded mounting, and it can feel like mere statistics.

But Jeff has our guide, Aladdin, in his phone still. When Israel declared a state of war, all of his tours for the month of October were cancelled. So suddenly, without warning, the head of a family of six has no way to pay his bills. His children are in the military and therefore in harm's way. (Military service is required by Israeli law for both men and women.)

War is personal.

Near Jericho, southwest of Jerusalem. The farther south you go, the more arid the landscape.

But the Palestinian complaint that they are treated like second class citizens in Israel is also true. We went into some of those towns while visiting, (Bethlehem is in a Palestinian area) and they cut off electricity and water to households in Gaza specifically. (I don't know if that's true in the areas closer to Jerusalem.) Palestinians are not allowed to vote, either. Crossing those

boundary lines is crossing from a first world country into a second or third world country.

Another interesting part of our experience was that as our guide toured us around "old Jerusalem" he urged us not to buy anything in the 'Muslim' quarter. But things were much more expensive in the Jewish, Christian and Armenian quarter. He took us to a small restaurant that was supposedly the "most reasonable" but it was much more expensive than the same food in the 'Muslim' area. Our Jewish guide simply didn't see things the way we Americans do. (The next day, we toured on our own and enjoyed shopping all over the city.)

On the other hand. . .(as Tevia considers in Fiddler on the Roof) the Jews have been taken as slaves multiple times in their history. The Roman emperor Titus memorialized carrying over a million slaves to Rome in the arch of Titus that still stands among the ruins of the Roman Forum. See the Minora in the carving? It was looted from the temple at Jerusalem.

That's a few miles south of the Golan Heights on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. Israel has been attacked from there in the past.

The long and short of it is that there are tensions that go back millennia. As Americans, we assume that everyone understands that we are all created equal and that civil rights should be uniformly and lawfully applied. But history repeats itself and human nature is consistent world wide. Mao Zedong murdered over 10 million fellow Chinese in the name of "Cultural revolution." He focused his killing on the educated, cultured, and elderly because they were most likely to oppose his brutality and recognize what was really going on.

Hitler targeted Jews, Poles, Homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and the disabled.

Joseph Stalin in Russia also focused on Jews and the politically opinionated. If statistics include the orchestrated famine, that claimed 5-6.5 million people, about 10 million people died at Stalin's hands, which is MORE deaths than are attributed to Hitler.

There are many titles for Jesus Christ. One of my favorites is "Prince of Peace."

This is what the village of Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine, looks like today.

While most of us have little control over the raging violence and political corruption rampant in our world, let us, the disciples of Jesus Christ, be peacemakers. We can't single-handedly bring about 'world peace' but we can spread peace, kindness, forgiveness, hospitality, and generosity to those in our own families and sphere of influence. Have faith, pray for peace and strive to make peace!


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