Tag Archive | Jerusalem

Eating Well

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I lived three blocks from the most famous Shuk in Jerusalem, and it was fantastically convenient. At first, I was super nervous to buy food there because I had no language skills to tell shopkeepers that I wanted some broccoli, or worse, to hear how much I owed them after they weighed the produce on their scale. But I got over it before too long, I was regularly using a mixture of English and pointing to buy fresh fruit and veggies, pita bread, small sweets, and once, this excellent Taybeh Beer. (I still haven’t seen these in the States…) Mediterranean cuisine is probably my favorite in the world; it spans so many regions and cultures, and is by definition fresh and light. One of the best things about Jerusalem is the variety of foods it has brought close together through a tangled but delicious history.

Almost time to go

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Last year at this time, I was in Tel Aviv again, just for a few hours. Mostly, I remember feeling weary on the bus back to Jerusalem in the dark.

Tel Aviv

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Last year at this time, I was in Tel Aviv. The city was a glorious, salty breath of fresh air and a most welcome change after living in buttoned-down Jerusalem for three weeks. I instantly felt more comfortable here than I ever did in the Holy City.

Privilege

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I shot this from the hip as part of a multimedia project for which I rode the Jerusalem Light Rail end to end. The storyline I witnessed was predictable and everything fell into place during my ride. The transit police boarded as we neared the green line, and started harassing people who wore headscarves or were not white shortly thereafter. I don’t know what the result of this exchange was, but it was not the only one I witnessed on the 40-minute tram ride.

I felt embarrassed in my knowledge that I would not be asked for more than a quick ticket check.

Nachlaot

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I took this picture in Nachlaot, the neighborhood where I lived with friends during my time in Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful, winding maze of apartments and synagogues where the streets are paved with smooth, slippery stone tiles and intermittent courtyards dot the walkways. The streets are narrow, rarely wide enough for two abreast, and stray cats prowl the alleyways with authority; there was an orange cat that hung out across from our apartment, which looked less mangy than most. It was surprisingly quiet, given its proximity to the noisy Agrippas street and the Shuk. It’s a place that feels eternal, and it was a fantastic place to call home for five weeks.

Rest

I do not have any pictures from January 21st, 2012 because I was celebrating Shabbat by sleeping, reading, eating, and for the most part, being shockingly observant for a Gentile. My hosts and I had prepared (on Friday!) lunch for a few friends; I believe we ate pasta with broccoli, cheese, and cherry tomatoes, amongst a variety of other dishes. I was astonished by how quiet it was outside. There were only a few cars on the road, no public transit, and people strolled slowly in small groups. It was good to see the world slow down.

Geography

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When I first arrived in the Holy Land, I was astonished by the scenery. I remember thinking that the fields between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were quite possibly the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen. I was also astonished by the very existence of the small mountains that Jerusalem is built upon. Despite considerable time spent perusing the Bible, it had somehow escaped me that Israel was anything other than arid and sandy; it took some reflection to reconcile the vistas I imagined in my youth with what I saw before me. Beginning to walk through the rugged beauty of this land helped me begin to understand why people fight over it.

Things Gathered

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This is one of my only pictures from January 17, 2012. I had just boarded a bus from the side of a small highway near Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, fairly sure that it was bound for Jerusalem. I was fascinated by the accouterments that the bus driver had affixed to his ceiling. There was a Star of David that looked like it had been fashioned out of Popsicle sticks, a few photos, air fresheners, and most mysteriously, a row of red things that resembled small shovels. I was struck by how the collection was vividly personal but on display, strange in its look and arrangement but familiar in sentiment.

Division, Mapped

How do maps address divided space and occupied territories?

This map was produced by B’Tselem and shows where the separation barrier has been built, has been approved to be built, and where the green line is. Yes, these are three different places. Naturally, the most complicated part of the map is the area around Jerusalem, where lines snake and weave. It’s just as messy on the ground.

I got this map from a lady in a booth right after the passing through the Lidra Street checkpoint to enter North Cyprus. This cartographer solved an awkward problem by simply omitting all detail in the Republic of Cyprus. Here there be dragons.

This is an official tourist map courtesy of the Republic of Cyprus and a Carleton alum who marked it up for me with helpful notes. The area to the north of the Buffer Zone contains some sketches of streets (I wonder if they’re accurate?) but otherwise notes resignedly, “Area under Turkish occupation since 1974.” I wonder if this phenomenon can be partly attributed to the two sides competing for tourist attention? (Maybe they won’t visit if they don’t know what’s over there..) Every map has an argument.

Unsurprisingly, my maps of Belfast never marked the Peace Walls. The Walls do not denote any sort of change in rules for the powers that be, only for the people that live there, so the Walls are not added to maps. Furthermore, it would be an unsightly blemish to wares in the Belfast Tourist Center, where I acquired this booklet. So, it was up to me to look up the locations I needed to visit, and mark them on my guidebook, sometimes with an R or L for Republican or Loyalist, so I could remember which side was which when I visited. My entire collection of maps is marked up with these lines and notes.

I wonder how someone living in these neighborhoods would map their city or world? Sounds like another project…

Flashback to Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem

This Palestinian woman has lived in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem since 1964. She only enjoyed her home for three years before a military base was built nearby, and the barbed wire began to snake through her neighborhood. Not long after, a settlement sprouted up across the street. The field where her children used to play is now filled with garbage and barbed wire stacked three rows high. This picture was taken in her driveway, not 50 meters from an Israeli fence. She said, in short, “it [the wall] is basically making life hell for Palestinians.”

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