After the rather “cool” weather yesterday, we shall have warmer days tomorrow and the desert wind will come back; the visitors come as groups, swarms. The things is that they are now systematically accompanied by “guides”. Israeli guides that the “local tourists” follow with passion and some “awe”. They are a bit afraid to get lost and this is a permanent feeling.
Quite a change compared to the situation 40 years ago: israelis would never go, even by groups through the shuksbazaars, would be on the border of fright. At the preent, all the streets are constantly visited by Jewish pious men and women, children, hareidim and a lot of “visitors that are ofte ntrue tourists”. Some guides can be special. Arrived at the bottom of the street that then goes down to the Greek orthodox Patriarchate, one guide seriously announced his Israeli audience from the center that no israeli would ever go any further and dare visit the Old City around the Holy Sepulcher… I could not help but say to one of the “tourist” that it was totally weird to hear such a thing. The guide looked at me, then stopped, waited till I get away. He gave some more explanations and told the group to return to Jaffa Gate and Mamilla…
This is a rare exception. On the contrary, these days, I often stop and discuss with the “little Israeli people”, simple people as we have. Their life is often not known rarely depicted: they work often hard away from Jerusalem, in small towns or kibbutzim, villages and/or settlements. They do travel, but would not get any chance to ge int ocontact with the locals that we are. The Arabs (of the Patriarchate and other places in all of the Christian Old City area) tell me how they are astounded that these visitors do not know at all where they are. They have a “tochnit/programתוכנית “, can hardly understand where to go, see the lights, the buildings, are very nice, absolutely not impolite in the streets and would try to get to some contacts.Nothing to do with the tons of lobbying photographers that definitely know nothing about what they shoot, take and photograph and change, transform and put online or share on the web.
These are often ignorant and quite arrogant as how they behave in a societal world they do not know or really get in touch with. They do show at night now because the light is wonderful.
I always see people I know and it is a real pleasure. I like to accompany acquaintances, people I meet on the spot. We, as Christians, do live here and have to witness that we can be “human”, show that the only commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself” and anyone is a must, a reality. That indeed, and whatever politics can twist – also in religion – we are all together and have to get closer to each other.
This is why it is important to see these Arab and Jewish youths crossing around, exchanging “glances” and being in fact more shy than afraid at the present. Connection can not rely upon ssytematic “revolt”, personal quest. It also relies upon the reality of our living in the same City of Jerusalem. The Renaissance is then far more than any sign given it is the way we pave the future to openness, true tolerance, real encounter. This also implies not to meet with “ours'” but with those wh oare totally foreign, alien to what we basically think or opine on our environment. We can be surprised, quite a lot and positively.