Women in Bastan Village, Kurdistan

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

From Bethlehem through the checkpoint, destination the Old City- July 20th-

From Bethlehem through the checkpoint, destination the Old City- July 20th-

Today our day started like always at 7 am. After breakfast and our meeting to prepare for the daily activities, we continued to pain the meeting room. I went with the girls to prepare the wings for the festival for our song. We took some fabric and cut them with the shape of wings. Today was one of our girls birthday, Lara and she brought a chocolate cake, with cups and plates and soft drinks and we shared it during our break. After we did stone painting with peace messages to give to Israeli soldiers. They were very impatient and it was hard to get them to work. Some did very nice designs, like Miral that did a dove, symbolizing peace in a blue background and the dove was on a cage. Suad also did a great design too and wrote the word peace on the stone. Then on the third workshop we wanted to work again on the wings and on doing invitations for the parents to come to the festival. The kids were very loud and running from one place to the other and I got a little bit anxious and started to scream to them to be quiet. Of course this did not work and Gisla was getting a little bit anxious too. She wanted them to paint some cards with different mandala designs but we could not get them to listen to her instructions. Mirna fell down and had some scratches in her leg, so I went to wash her leg and after she was with her big beautiful dark eyes and her sweet smile that always remember me why I am here. She smiled and gave me a kiss. I forgot all my anxiety. Eventually they were calmed and started to paint.

After the camp we took the kids bus and we were left close to the checkpoint to pass from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. There is a new practice that the soldiers use now, to make people trying to cross the checkpoint get off and walk through the checkpoint. One of the volunteers that has been here for 8 months and commutes from Jerusalem to Bethlehem every day was explaining her theory that this is done to discourage people from coming to Bethlehem with the purpose to debilitate the only source of income of this city. So, it was our turn to experience it, we waited for more than half an hour and eventually we passed. I realized that there was no point but to make people uncomfortable. On the other side the soldiers barely look at you when you were passing, so I really support the previous theory. The soldiers are behind a plexy glass and they are not doing a specific search of anything.

Once on the other side of the checkpoint you have to take another bus into Damascus Gate. Immediately we went to get a falafel from the kiosk on the corner and went into Paolos house, a very nice and beautiful guest house for German pilgrims. It has a great terrace that overlooks the old city and you can see all the churches and mosques from there, we went for a short tour of the city. We stopped at the western wall and Agnes explained that that wall was the wall of the complex that surrounded the third temple and was built by Herodion and destroyed it around 570. It is not the wall of the temple itself but it is the only structure that was kept. The complex including the wall; called the Temple Mount by Jews is very sacred to the Jews since they believe that God lives in the temple. Inside the wall now lies the Al Aqsa and the Dome on the Rock, where Mohamed the prophet is believed to have ascended into heaven. She explained that before there used to be a lot of Arab houses near the wall but the Israelis destroyed them to get access to the wall. It is controlled by the waqt, a Muslim institution. One of the city entrances is here, golden gate which is closed. The Jews believe that this is the gate by whish the messiah will come. We also visited the church of the Holy Sepulcher, There we learned about the current status quo that the different Christian denominations have to have control of different parts of the church: 6 denominations control the church in a very strict contract that includes who cleans which part of the church, Thank god that we believe in the power of religion to unite people.

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