In Canada

We heard about the attacks in Jerusalem and in Canada. People died and the manufacturers of fear cried out in disgust and horror. I am able to report that the dangers on this side of the world are not as bad as the screaming headlines would have you believe. I suspect that this is much the case back home in Canada.

While the headlines screamed the horror of the attacks against soldiers, my mind immediately fled to the horror of the attacks these events would bring on our democracy and freedoms. I was relieved to see that I was not the only one who had fled to this space. Stand on guard for Canada, keep vigilant against the manufacturers.

And in Jerusalem

Houses in Silwan Valley displaying Israeli flags
Israeli Settler’s takeover homes in Silwan Valley (October 2014)

In Jerusalem, a Jewish-Israeli-American baby died around the same time as the soldiers in Canada. A Palestinian drove his car into a group of people waiting for the light rail in Al-Quds. It was reported that he was from Silwan. There was no mention that the day before, in the dead of night,  Israeli settlers had taken over homes in Silwan; some reports say armed and escorted by Israeli security forces. Nor was there any mention of  Einas Khalil hit by settler’s car in West bank four days earlier. She died later that day – October 19, 2014.  There were no screaming headlines calling it a “Terrorist Attack”.

The next day we were told the tension, according to the manufacturers, in Jerusalem was unbearable.

The next day we were at a meeting. Upon its completion, the keynote speaker reminded us, in case we didn’t know about the “incident” from the day before, to be careful out there. His warning reminded me of the opening roll call from Hill Street Blues. Then he left the room off to another engagement but before long he returned. He stood still with a stern expression on his face; his palms facing outward, fingers pointing up.

“There’s been and ‘incident’ outside. You will not be able to leave the building.”

“What?” we asked.

“We went to leave the building, but there are armed soldiers outside moving up and down the street.” he answered.

We all laughed, “that’s a training exercise.” We knew about it, because we had read the notices the day before.

The next day, we left the meeting and headed to Jaffa Road. Along the way we stopped for a coffee and pastry. My wife went to the washroom. While I waited for her to return, a woman came up to me. She was carrying a baby; a four year old baby. She approached me cautiously. She wanted to know if I spoke English. I nodded that I did. She asked if she could sit. I nodded that she could.

Light rail train on Yaffa Road
Light rail train on Yaffa Road

She told me she was from Haifa and had come to Jerusalem to bring her baby, to the doctor. She needed to return to Haifa but did not have enough money. She did not have enough money because she needed to take a taxi to the central bus station to catch the bus to Haifa. She needed to take a taxi because the light rail was too dangerous. She had been warned that the Arabs were dangerous. She finished her plea for money.

“Just so I understand” I started, “You need money for a taxi to get to the bus station because the Arabs are dangerous?”

She nodded yes.

“I don’t buy that premise”, I said and got up and walked away.

Market inside Damascus Gate
Market inside Damascus Gate

The next day, we then wandered from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem. We went shopping for dinner and to pick up some clothes from the tailor. Then we went onto the old city, the Muslim quarter. We strolled through the old city, in and out of shops. We bought curry, coconut milk, a back scrubber and even found some coffee with cardamon; the shopkeepers suggestion.

We found no tension.

And the next day, the Jerusalem Post published a picture of the baby being held up in front of the Western Wall with the headline: “You looked at me and smiled.” Next to the headline was another, “Violence rages in Jerusalem as Netanyahu vows to restore quiet.”

And the next day, we went on another tour of Jerusalem to learn all about what divides the city. There were flying checkpoints everywhere. Our tour guide told us that normally he would take us into other parts of East Jerusalem, but because of the situation it would not be safe to go to these parts of East Jerusalem, like Silwan. I did not mind not going to Silwan, because I would be going there in a couple of days.

Augusta Victoria Hospital from the Old City
Augusta Victoria Hospital

At the first opportunity I had, I left the group and wandered past the flying checkpoint to the Augusta Victoria Hospital while the group remained at the Mount Scopus lookout point.

Table setting in preparation for Shabbat dinner
Table setting in preparation for Shabbat dinner

That night when we got home after attending a service and prepared to sit down for Shabbat dinner, our host said to us,

“That noise, that banging sound in the distance, it’s fireworks. Palestinians getting married. They usually get married on Friday evenings and they like to let off fireworks. It’s not aggression.”

Shabbat Shalom/Salam Alaikum


We went out this afternoon, and passed a Palestinian wedding, a Palestinian picnic and a Palestinian barbeque all in West Jerusalem. A far better reality!

 Another Postscript

Israelis could learn from this video . . .