Monday, February 11, 2008

Jerusalem, God's own UFC cage

Made it! Fucking made it! Jakarta to Jerusalem, Indonesia to Israel, Jaksan Jala to Jaffa Gate. I crossed the finish line. I fucking rule!

For conflict history junkies it doesn't get any better than this place. It's always been a scrapping spot and it's guaranteed to continue being so. There will always be a reason to fight over the "City of Peace" (beyond irony). For the scornful atheist, Jerusalem conviniently gathers 3 major religions and their pious worshipers to snigger at in a small walkable enclosure. I am a very happy bunny.

I got to the Jaffa gate after a walk from the Hebrew Uni and gave myself a victory cheer as I passed through. This was not very smart as some of Jerusalem's many gunslingers started to take interest in me. This was not my last fuck-up of the day. I managed to leave my pocketknife in my backpack even though I knew I was going to the world's favourite flashpoint.

The boys at the Dome of the rock refused me entry because of it and the offending item had to be stashed in a nearby Yeshiva. The Wailing wall guards didn't care but then again there are so many armed soldiers there that I would be amply dead by the time I found and unfolded by puny weapon. For some reason there is no metal detector at the Holy Sepulchre. Maybe the authorities have decided that Christians follow JC's message of peace despite historical evidence to the contrary.

By coincidence I visited the sites in the same order that they appeared on earth to give a message of love and peace that would be universally ignored. Here goes:

I first went to the famous Wailing Wall. Visually it's not that impressive as it is, well, a wall. What makes it fun are the people there. Tourists with paper kipas mingle with pious Jews praying and stashing little messages in the cracks of the masonry. Chicks have a separate area and they don't get to see the tunnels which made me ponder the weird notion that gawking sightseers such as myself are welcome to Judaism's holiest place but Jewish women must be to the side. The whole hullaballoo gets an occasional boost of energy as a Bar Mitzva party bring the new man amidst great cheer and lobbing of sweets. Fantastic stuff!

I was fortunate to have with me an American Yeshiva student that could answer some of my questions about the paraphernalia and rituals of the prayers although he couldn't tell me what happens to the pieces of paper when saturation point gets reached. He also sorted me out with a free lunch and a place to hide my dangerous cutlery. Mercifully he was of a cynical disposition hence I could joke away.

After the Wall we folowed a trio of nuns to the place where Christians claim their boy wonder was nailed up, buried and resurrected. I'll pass over the convenience of thinking someone was executed and buried at the same spot. In short it is a church of medium beauty. Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of evidence of the wonderfully petty bitchfighting that the various resident reps of Christianity's branches are famous for.

Fistfights ending in hospitalisation have happened over trivial crap like doors left open and chairs moved into the shade. There is a ladder there that hasn't been shifted for over a century as this would provoke another brawl. As the Christians couldn't be trusted to act like grown ups where the Sepulchre is concerned the key to the church as been in the care of a Palestinian family for eons. I wonder if the custodians aren't tempted to give the keys to one group, set up a camera and make "When monks fight" DVDs. It could be a nice little earner. I'd buy it for one.

After another stroll through the narrow medieval streets and their shlock shops we returned to the place that the Jews and the Muslims find so Holy. This time we went to see the Mahomedans' erections and my companion broke some Rabbinical decree to the effect that Jews cannot go to the Temple Mount untill someone builds a Temple there (from the same guys who declared that walking through metal detectors does not break Shabat) . Security is tight there and you have to walk up a covered ramp overlooking the wailers. Said ramp holds a few IDF gunslingers and a big stash of riot shields. Charming.

I'll give the Muslims cred for having the most aesthetically pleasing site of Jerusalem. The dome of the rock has fantastic tilework and a big shiny roof. They have also put some nice gardens there. However, Allah's lot do get some minus points as they won't let kaffirs inside the Dome or the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Infidels also have to get out of the grounds whenever it's prayer time or nearby.

This post is a victory/gloat post of sorts so I'll end soon. More will follow. I will return to the Old City and use Jerusalem as a base for visiting Masada as well as trying to get into the West Bank to see the flip side of Israel. After that I will do a more ponderous post. For now though I will simply drink a few beers in honour of myself and my success.

Once again, I rule!

Take care,



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