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PostMy Visits to Jerusalem (Richard Hancock, USA, 12/27/17 7:57 am)
I have visited Jerusalem twice, once in 1997 on a tour led by our priest at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Nancy and I then conducted a second trip in 1999 for painters.
I don't claim to be an expert on Israel, but I do wish to share some of my impressions gained during these two expeditions. Our guide for the first trip was a Jewish woman born in France. The second was an Arab Christian born in Israel. They were both competent, but I felt that the Arab guide gave us a more balanced view of Israel. The Jewish guide kept us on the normal tourist routes, while the Arab guide was willing to take us to places totally inhabited by Arabs.
The impression that I have of these two trips is that it is a shame that Israel, one of the most advanced of the world's nations, exists side by side with very impoverished Arabs. When we arrived at the Tel Aviv airport we noted numerous Thais who had just arrived. We were told that they were to be employed in various activities in Israel. We thought that it was a great shame that these jobs could not be filled by the numerous poor Arabs that we had observed. However, I must admit that, as an employer, I would be hesitant to employ workers who might kill me. My solution for this would be that, hopefully, the Arabs and Israelis would find a way that these two groups could find a way to work together and all be citizens of the same country, with Jerusalem being the capital because of its importance to both Jews and Muslims.
The world has a history of bitter enemies who have resolved their differences. The first step would be for the Palestinians to recognize that Israel is a valid country in which Jews and Muslims could live together in peace. Jews would need to recognize Palestinians as equals. Both sides would profit from these simple steps. If the UN had an effective army to enforce such a peaceful end, this would be a process that would likely succeed. This would be a difficult task but I think that it is worth a try.
JE comments: Mutual recognition, respect, equality. These are tall orders, but is there any other way? The only question then is a one-state or two-state resolution for Palestine/Israel.
The Middle East remains one of the great unchecked boxes on my Bucket List. Must do something about that, but we still have dirty clothes left over from Cuba.