Written by J.D. on 05 Nov, 2000
Ten Jewish tourists taking a tour of the West Bank - that's what we were. Our van came to the front of our Jerusalem hotel at around 8 in the morning - we got in, said hello to our tour guide and…Read More
Ten Jewish tourists taking a tour of the West Bank - that's what we were. Our van came to the front of our Jerusalem hotel at around 8 in the morning - we got in, said hello to our tour guide and driver, and were on our way.
Life in the West Bank is not easy - there are constant skirmishes between Israeli and Palestinian soldiers. There's the feeling of hate in the air.
After crossing three security checkpoints, we went into Hebron. The city of Hebron is mostly Arab, and the Palestinian Authority controls it as a result of peace talks. There are small enclaves of Jewish territory that are a few hundred feet long scattered throughout the city. There are Israeli soldiers all around.
After visiting the graves of two Biblical characters, Ruth and King David, we went to a general cemetery that had been partially destroyed in riots a few weeks earlier.
One thing about our time in Hebron - it felt like we were filming a documentary. We sat with people we didn't know---a Jewish settler with eight children, and an elderly lady who had lived in Hebron for 55 years since before the rise of the State of Israel. We spoke with Norwegian monitors and Arab merchants.
In one of the Jewish enclaves in Hebron, it feels like one is in a "shuk" - an open-air market that can be found throughout the Middle East. As we walk down the street with Israeli soldiers around us, we see Arab vegetable carts, clothing stores, and auctions.
The prime attraction in Hebron, and the one that makes the city so disputed is the Cave of Machpelah - the Cave of the Forefathers. This is where the three fathers mentioned in the Bible and three of the mothers are buried (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah). Jews and Moslems claim Abraham as their forefather. As we enter through three separate security thresholds, we see a palette of life in Israel: a soldier with a machine gun who is praying, an Orthodox Jew in all black swaying back and forth, an Arab on his knees.
After thirty minutes, we returned to our van. We headed out of the city towards Qiryat Arba, a major Jewish settlement situated on the outskirts of Hebron. 300 families live there enjoying a comfortable suburban life.
After visiting Qiryat Arba, we head back to Jerusalem by way of Bethlehem. There, we saw more people praying at Rachel's Tomb, the place where the second wife of Jacob is said to be buried.
As we returned to the relative calm that Jerusalem is, I couldn't help but wonder why this land is so disputed - why can't we share it? Close