I just want to say before I begin: I LOVE Jerusalem A LOTTT! The breeze is one that is intoxicating. The cool temperatures will make your spine shudder in surprise. The spirit of the city will make your heart smile with elation. It is pure beauty…(unlike Tel Aviv) Though I must say today is my first day in Jerusalem, I still have a lot to see, and these are just my first impressions.
We are now in a small Jewish quarter of Jerusalem called Rahovya. I got a couple of stares, I mean nothing new since I am the lone Muslim in many of the Jewish quarters we have been in. But the shocking thing happened when we were all eating dinner. The Professor (who is guiding the trip) was debriefing us about Israel and Palestine and the future of two until he was incredulously interrupted by an American guy, who was with his wife and his 10 year old son. He man vehemently told the Professor to stop talking about Palestine. He wanted to enjoy his food in “peace”. He went on claiming that he was not a Jew or a Christian, but he was one of the settlers and had not desire to hear what negative information the Professor was sharing about the settlers. The Professor kindly asked if the gentleman – I use that word liberally – would like to join our discussion and engage. He simply refused and insisted that we all pipe down. Stunned our group ate on in silence for about 30 seconds and then we finished our conversation with another topic. It is interesting how this man decided that he needed to sensor us in a public location like that restaurant. It is even more concerning to know that there are people who are not even willing to engage or hear the other side of the story. It was an interesting first say in Jerusalem, to say the least. It has such a different vibe than Tel Aviv. I am way more comfortable here than in Tel Aviv. Maybe it is for many reasons like the fact that on average the people here more religious thus making me fit in more in terms of my dress: long skirts, long sleeves, and head wraps. But the best connection and comfort I have with the city stems from the fact that Rasulullah was here. He graced the city with his presence some 1,4000 years ago, and I am glad I could be in a city where he was present.
I will be in Palestine until the end of the week, then I will be off to Morocco. But before then, I am determined to pray in Masjid al-Aqsa, bithnillah.