A DANGEROUS PLACE ?
David Soakell of CFI- Christian Friends of Israel- North East (whom I know personally) was touring Israel recently (December 2003) and he made one or two interesting comments in his prayer letter:
Another problem is the battle against the increasing Palestinian hatred within the Arab youth. As I walked past the smirks and arrogant looks from young people in East Jerusalem I could feel the hatred pressing in on me.
As Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch) stated recently,
“If you want to know what’s really at the heart of the Palestine conflict with Israel don’t ask the politicians or the diplomats. Go to the new experts: Palestinian children. Unlike the rest of the world, they have been paying close attention to what their leaders and educators have been teaching them and they re ready to practise what they have been taught.
For instance, children interviewed on Palestinian Authority (PA) TV last week state clearly and without reservation that Israel has no right to exist and that their goals, for which they are willing to sacrifice their lives, is Israel’s destruction and the expulsion of all Israelis. He quotes them as saying, “The Jews came to take Palestine, that is Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acco, Ramle. All these cities belong to Palestine.” One youth explains in the broadcast, echoing years of standard PA indoctrination.
And because he, [the Palestinian youth] is convinced that Israel has no right to exist [They state] “We hope, hope, hope- and I emphasise these things- that the Arab countries and the foreign countries, all the countries of the world, will support the Palestinians and will expel the Israelis." The children on PA TV declare, “We must expel all the Israelis from Palestine. Because Israel- there is nothing called Israel in he world. The Israelis came from Holland, American Iran..” children are also seen promising that they will keep fighting generation after generation “until they liberate Palestine.”
Furthermore they don’t fear death in the struggle because it is Shahada- death for Allah. They proudly declare, “Even if all the Palestinian children, Palestinian youth, Palestinian women and Palestinian men die, we will not surrender!”
Here was another comment:
“Israel’s citizens yearn for peace and the ability to live free from constant danger and from the hostility of the Arab world. They are a broken people with morale at an all-time low. You can see it their faces, their body language, their lack of hope. Next time you desire to go to Israel, why not leave the “tourism” to the tourists and do as we’ve done this week and travel on their public buses in Jerusalem to witness the uneasiness as people watch each other carefully, in case of any “suspicious” looking people; or sit in their cafes on Jaffa Road, or Ben Yehuda Street and witness every person being searched for wires and bombs before a coffee is allowed. Israelis are so tired and fed up with the Intifada and the havoc it has wreaked on their lives over the last three years. Many have become cynical to the point where they no longer believe their children have much of a future in Israel. Week after week, month after month, year after year- the almost incessant bombings, shootings and stabbings have left hundreds of Israelis dead and all these things sooner or later take their toll..”
People sometimes ask me, “How can you live in such a dangerous place?”
Last November I was on a tour around Kibbutz Ramat Rachel just south of Jerusalem and the tour guide said this:
“People in America won’t go to England because it’s too dangerous because of the terrorists. People in England won’t come to Israel because it’s too dangerous. People in Israel won’t come to Jerusalem because it’s too dangerous. People in Jerusalem won’t go to Gilo because it’s too dangerous. People in Gilo won’t go to a particular street because it’s too dangerous. People in that street won’t visit number 11 because it’s too dangerous. The people who live in number 11 don’t like one particular room and the ones who live in that room don’t open the shutters between certain hours because it’s too dangerous…No, the fact is that, regardless of what you have heard, Israel is safe!”
David Dolan, an American journalist, who has lived in Israel for many years, says he has faced violence only twice in the last few years and in both cases it was- you’ve guessed it- in the USA.
During the seventies I lived in Israel for about five years but had only been back once since then- for a two week tour in 2001. Then last March (2003) I came back to Jerusalem for a wedding. At that time, admittedly, I was a little concerned. I had been monitoring the news from Israel for about five years. I had read the sermons from the Palestinian mosques calling for the faithful to kill the Jews “wherever you are” and I had read all the incitement to hatred in the Palestinian school syllabus. I thought that I would find Jerusalem a dangerous, tense place and that people would be running around like frightened rabbits. (Everyone was, after all, expecting the war with Iraq to start any minute and we were anticipating the scuds to start falling like confetti) Yes, to begin with I was a little nervous but then I started looking around and I noticed that nobody else seemed to be that bothered. They did have a problem and they were dealing with it but I detected very little fear. Sometimes it does pay to be thick!
I then took a walk around outside the walls of the Old City and I passed Herod’s Gate (It’s near the eastern end of the northern wall) At first I was nervous about entering the Moslem part of the city but I decided to do it anyway. From there I walked through the Old City to Damascus Gate and on through the covered suqs (markets and shops) that I had spent so much time in during the seventies. Since then I have walked around most of the Moslem areas at practically any hour you like and have seldom met any personal hostility. To me, Jerusalem is safe. Again, it sometimes pays to be thick.
In one sense Christian foreigners living in Israel face exactly what the Israelis face. We walk around the Jewish city; we travel on the Jewish buses; we drink coffee in the Aroma and in the Hillel; we eat steaks in El Gaucho; we go to the cinema; we sit in Zion Square and we walk up and down Ben Yehuda…In that sense we face the same risks.
There are, however, two important differences- firstly, we do not have to do military service. That is something few of us would care to do and it is a very important difference.
The second difference- and this is probably the more important one for us- is that most of us feel that we are here because God has something for us to do here. If that is the case, then we are in God’s hands and- if that is true- nothing dreadful is going to happen unless he allows it to happen. The fact is that very few Christians here seem even remotely tense about life and most do not even mention the violence. Those, who do feel tense, don’t stay. Life, for almost all of us, feels quite normal. Life is good (quite cold at the moment, though)
Just to get things in perspective, we have several volunteers and guests from South Africa who laugh if anyone suggests that Jerusalem is a dangerous place. Jerusalem is the sort of place they come to when they need a break from the violence in the new, improved South Africa.
Rosemary is another example. She is our English Rose. She is very sweet and lady-like and, the way she talks, you would not think she had ever been out of Surrey. She seems so innocent and naïve- but this seemingly naïve, sweet, ever so ladylike English Rose has the backbone of a rhinoceros! Sometimes she talks about her time in Peru- and when she mentions Peru, her eyes go all big and innocent.
One night, for example, she heard five bus bombs go off in the same town. Sometimes she would read reports in the papers that rebels had rounded up the inhabitants of an entire village and had thrown them all off a cliff- thousands in one night! At one time she had a personal death threat as a foreign worker. For people like Rosemary, Jerusalem is for the Nancies!
All those comments by David Soakell and others are perfectly true. We do live in a war situation and most Israelis (and Arabs, who are being honest) are pretty sick of it and long for this stupid, senseless fighting to be over, but I once worked out that the chances of being shot or blown to bits in Jerusalem are exactly the same as the chances that Readers’ Digest are actually going to give me that £250,000 they keep promising me. If they ever do cough up, then I will definitely start to worry.
Have a good week!
Brian, Christian Voluntary Worker, Jerusalem, January 2004.
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Bin Laden works for the CIA
A terrorist boasts about his murders
Do not shirk jihad
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An Egyptian “spy” is murdered
Letter from the wife of a Moslem shahid.
Arab doctors urge jihad.
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ISLAM HAS PLANS FOR US ALL
HOW JIHAD WORKS
ARAB HOME TRUTHS
A dangerous place (1)
A DANGEROUS PLACE (2)
World war with Islam began in 1979
ARE WE AT WAR WITH ISLAM?
THE PROBLEM LIES IN WHAT WE SAY IN ARABIC
A German talks about Islam.