Israel Part 2

If you get a chance to visit Israel, the land of the Bible, go. Don’t let the following discourage you.
On this our thirty-third trip to Israel my wife and I ventured out of the tourist sphere several times. I pruned olive trees and grape vines in a friend’s garden and visited deep into two regions of the off beat desert. I am writing about the Bible character Nicodemus and lucked up on finding his grave on the Costal Plain at Beit Gemal near where David fought Goliath in the valley of Elah.
Just my wife and I were on this trip. Walking in the Old City of Jerusalem by ourselves we ventured into the Arab section. Each quarter of the city has its own enjoyable atmosphere. We knew our way around and enjoyed leisurely visiting places of interest. However, there was one difference this time. Small groups of admirably brown boys with moosed curly hair enjoy walking in packs and engaging tall white men in combat walking. They took delight in taunting me verbally in a language I don’t know, tugged at my shirt and often bumped me.
Later in telling an adult about it I said I understand their frustration and don’t hold it against them.
He said, “You can forgive them but they won’t forgive you.”
I asked what he meant. He asked if I knew why they hated me simply because I am an American. He explained every week in the mosques of the land, including the mosque on the Holy Mount, they hear the same hate message. He explained the Arabs have a term used for “raiding the well.” In the old Arab culture if the well of a tribe wasn’t producing they would raid the well of a neighboring tribe and get their valued water. He said they are taught Americans are raiding the wells of the Arab people in Iraq. Because of this, they are taught to hate Americans.
The person telling me this is well educated. He said Americans are not the ones raiding the Iraqi wells-it is the British who have been doing it for years as the British Petroleum Company. However, it is to the advantage of the religious leaders in that part of the world to preach such a message of hate.
To maintain calm in this pluralistic society, extremists must be dealt with. A police officer represented himself to me as being in investigation. I presumed that meant investigating crimes after the fact. It meant investigating potential happenings in order to prevent them. He said it isn’t always democratic but it is essential for the welfare of both sides to infiltrate and deal with potential problems in order to prevent them. Surveillance is a constant necessity.
That is a delicate essential in our own country. Constant vigilance in investigating what might happen in order to prevent it is basic to safety. Doing so in our democratic society is all the more difficult. That is what some of our recent investigative legislation is all about. Like it or not it is necessary.
Don’t let my recent experience deter you from going to Israel. Stay with your group and there is no problem. Arabs and Israelis alike assured me the terrorist know the tourists are good for the economy and not one has been a target.
The spiritual benefits are worth the efforts.