Thursday, January 17, 2008

Going up to Jerusalem

Thanks to Shannon Parks-Beck my trip was a little more pleasant yesterday. After flying 9 hours to Paris, then managing the subways from the airport, then fighting crowds through a busy but as-always beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, all I really wanted prior to our Tel Aviv leg was a chocolate croissant. Pain au chocolat, as the French call them. A guilty pleasure that makes life more joyful, as I call them.

And here was Shannon, searching the Paris airport for pain au
chocolat, for me, at 10:00 at night. And she found one! Salvation through chocolate. My personal heresy.

The photo above is our subgroup of pilgrims who decided to head to downtown Paris during our 6 hour layover at Charles deGaulle Airport. From left to right: Mary Romer, Shannon Parks-Beck, Mona Stucki, Joshua Liljenstolpe, Hank Landau, Michael Ramos. Photographer: C'est moi.

After my chocolate salvation we made the final legs of our journey. Paris to Tel Aviv. Midnight through passport control in Tel Aviv. Bus to Jerusalem. Hotel at St. George's Cathedral. Given the quality of company, the happy memories of chocolate, and the feeling of being blessed with a safe journey I barely noticed the lack of heat in the room and only cold water in the shower. We're in Jerusalem. We've "gone up" to Jerusalem, as the Bible would say.

And the way up was interesting. Last time I was here, 10 years ago, there was no four lane freeway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now the freeway speeds through the West Bank on its way uphill, speeding as though it's happy to ignore the Jewish West Bank settlements and the 24-foot separation barrier keeping Palestinian and Israeli apart.

Even President Bush recognized the injustice of Jewish settlements on
the West Bank last week and urged the Israeli government to remove them. Problem will be that removing the settlements from the West Bank would be like removing Ballard from Seattle. It's a "fact on the ground." The settlements are enormous and spread for miles over the
landscape. How can there ever be peace with facts like these?

We're off to the Old City of Jerusalem in a few moments. Peace!


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