Jerusalem

November 26th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

On Tuesday I flew from Tehran to Tel Aviv via Turkey. Iran will not let you enter if you have been to previously, so I guessed they would not be that keen on me heading there straight afterwards, so I had been very careful  not to mention the part of my trip publicly.

I got a bit nervous at the airport though when I realised that as I was on the same airline from Tehran to Istanbul and Istanbul to Tel Aviv, they could see the next leg, as they asked me if I wanted to check my bags all the way through. I very quietly said yes.

The flight to Istanbul was a nightmare as the airport fogged in, and we circled for an hour then diverted to Ankara, refueled and then went back to Istanbul. A two hour flight took almost six hours, and I missed my connecting flight. Got transferred onto a later one okay though.

Just as Iran is not that keen on visitors who have been to Israel, Israel is not that keen on people who have just flown in from Iran. At the gate in Istanbul, I was taken aside and questioned for around 10 minutes about why I had been in Iran, how long would I be in Israel etc.

Eventually got onto flight. When we went through passport control at Tel Aviv, I thought it would be even worse, but the officer accepted my story straight away, and took only a couple of minutes.

Met up with the rest of the group. We have five Swedes, two Finns two Austrians, a Swiss and one Kiwi.

Around 5 pm we went to the Shrine of the Book. This museum houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex. Most people will have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but now the Codex, which is basically the oldest existing bible – around 3,000 years old. It isn’t a bible per se – more the authoritative source for the bible. So you get some idea of its historical value.

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This is a photo of a model of old Jerusalem at the Shrine of the Book. The model is huge – only a 50:1 ratio.

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Then went to the Mount of Olives and saw some of the 150,000 graves there, plus the superb view of old Jerusalem.

At 8 pm we hit Old Jerusalem. I can’t describe how wonderful the city is – such a sense of history. We visited the Western (or Wailing) Wall, and also had tours through the Generations Centre and best of all though the tunnels underneath the wall.

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This is the base of the Western Wall. All day and night many Jews go there to pray.

The original temple here was the Temple of Solomon. After that was destroyed in 586 BC, a second temple was constructed by Herod in around 19 BC. The wall is part of the remains of that temple. Judaism believes a third temple will be constructed there when the Messiah comes.

The original temple was on the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism as it is taught as the place where God created Adam. It is also sacred to Islam as the site where Muhammed ascended to heaven.

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The tunnels under the Western Wall are incredible. So much history down there. Not one for claustrophobics though. Also a bad place to be if there is an earthquake!

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Also did a walk through the alleyways and bazaars of East Jerusalem. This is basically Palestinian/Arab area, and is likely to be officially part of a future Palestine state. While there has been violence in the past, things were generally very relaxed in this area, with people from all religions and races walking about.

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18 Responses to “Jerusalem”

  1. Lance (2,309 comments) says:

    I am soooooo jelous.
    Jerusalem was probably the most interesting place I ever visited.

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  2. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,049 comments) says:

    There is (or used to be):

    a great bar in the Christian Quarter called ‘The Tobasco Tea Rooms’
    an Armenian bookseller on the Via Dolorosa that sells cool historical photgraphs of Jerusalem.
    A good perfumer near Damascus Gate where you can buy real frankencense and myrhh
    an excellent bookstore called Steimastky on Ben Yehuda
    The liturgy in the Armenian church is the most interesting of the Christian services.
    There are only a few hours/week that non-muslims can visit al-Hiram, don’t miss out.

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  3. TimG_Oz (883 comments) says:

    Was the last photo the souk within the Old City, or a souk in East Jerusalem.

    Depending on the peace proposal (I think there were a couple), I think the Old City either remained in Israeli hands, or was neutral territory, with access controlled by Jordan for Arab citizens of Palestine

    Either way a fun place to go…. I got great drum lessons from some Arab marketeers, and they enjoyed the Mutton Birds Cassette in my walkman!

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  4. andrei (2,430 comments) says:

    The frequency of posts seems to have shot up now you in the only civilized Middle Eastern Country since Turkey.

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  5. backster (2,000 comments) says:

    Your interests in biblical sites indicates that like Paul you have seen the light, and on that I congratulate you and welcome to the fold.

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  6. Jeff83 (765 comments) says:

    Is it just me or do the tunnels under the western wall look allot like Mordor!

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  7. anonymouse (651 comments) says:

    David, If you are going to be in Israel on the Sababth, see if you can find one of these, any lift installed after 2001 should include such an option.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabbat_elevator

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  8. WraithX (295 comments) says:

    The Aleppo Codex was written in the 10th century AD – it is not 3,000 years old, it is 1,087 years old :) And, of course, it is the definitive text for the Hebrew Bible – not the Christian Bible which was based on the LXX and earlier Hebrew texts which are no longer extant.

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  9. Lance (2,309 comments) says:

    Danyls post reminds me.
    I had a coffee in this little cafe’ just inside the Jaffa gate. On the wall was a calander from Riverhead transport.. which is like 5 k/ms from where I live in Auckland.
    Too weird.

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  10. Repton (769 comments) says:

    I have heard that Israel has some of the best airport security in the world — where “best” means “most effective”. They don’t make you take off your shoes, or other pointless wastes of time; they just have a lot of experienced men and women on the ground who are very good at assessing whether people pose a threat.

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  11. Jack5 (4,220 comments) says:

    Re Danyl McLauchlan at 3.15: interesting comments Danyl, tickles the old travel itch.

    By the way, given your views on Imihaera’s plagiarism ( DimPost, as follows), I presume you wouldn’t mind if Lonely Planet lifted your words.

    Danyl on Imihaera:”…Personally I think Ihimaera’s ‘crime’ was trivial…”

    Danyl went on to reprint accusations of plagiarism against Garth George.

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  12. mavxp (490 comments) says:

    I visited Jerusalem earlier this year and yes it was a great experience – more to feel the cultures today and the importance they have for the place – the Jews especially. Coming from NZ we don’t have many Jews compared with other countries – such as USA, Australia, and UK so it was interesting to see how special the western wall and Jerusalem was for them. I think if you are Jewish you should definitely go and experience it for yourself. Others only if you are interested in the cultures today and the historical importance of the place (interminably linked).

    In terms of ancient sites for Christianity – it is pretty much all gone -the Romans *completely* destroyed the city in 70AD, some 40 years after Jesus, and rebuilt a pagan city over what was Jerusalem, so everything you see and walk on is newer – the walls of the old city are Ottoman, the Arab quarter (above the tunnels David walked through) are from the Mamluk era, and the via-dolorosa and other main avenues are from Crusader times. In fact the street level is built up many feet above the 0 BC level. The church of the holy sepulchre supposedly is the site of both Jesus’ crucifixion and his tomb – both at the same site and inside the present city walls (how convenient), but is highly suspect that it is actually what it claims to be. Unimpressed? head for the garden tomb outside the Damascus gate (which makes no claim to being the actual tomb, merely a possibility) to avoid the dingy darkness and overt religiosity of the orthodox church and consider the words on the door to the tomb “He is not here”. Quite so.

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  13. valeriusterminus (242 comments) says:

    Hey DPF
    Thanks for the fab photos and travellog – really inspiring in a “must go there” sense.
    But why, the rendezvous ? “five Swedes, two Finns two Austrians, ‘ and’ a Swiss ” now?
    Did I miss the motive ? – (probably!)
    Note; – that you state their Nationalities, not else.

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  14. simpleton (127 comments) says:

    The only thing the Qur’an has to say about it is this the first verse of sura 17, which says that Allah took Muhammad from “the Sacred Mosque” in Mecca “to the farthest [al-aqsa] Mosque.” There was no mosque in Jerusalem at this time, so the “farthest” mosque probably wasn’t really the one that now bears that name in Jerusalem, but Islamic tradition is firm that this mosque is in Jerusalem.

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  15. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    The original temple was on the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism as it is taught as the place where God created Adam. It is also sacred to Islam as the site where Muhammed ascended to heaven.

    Conveniently Mohammed never actually had to go to Jerusalem – he did it all in a dream. Handy way to lay claim to the most important city of your two biggest rival religions.

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  16. BroadArrow (5 comments) says:

    Are you sure that last photo isn’t in the suk in the Muslim quarter of the old city? Arab East Jerusalem is outside the old city to the east…

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  17. mavxp (490 comments) says:

    Exactly Brian… very convenient

    The temple mount (Mt Moriah) is actually thought to be the site (the “rock”) where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God, but God halted him before the act, and provided a goat -caught in some brambles nearby, to be the proxy sacrifice for their sins – hence establishing the covenant between Abraham & his descendents (Israelites/ Jews). This is the where the Holy of Holies was located on the temple mount, where God’s spirit dwelt. The Western wall is the closest that Jews can currently approach this sacred location; hence it’s significance to them.

    The interesting parallel for christians is the sacrifice of Jesus as God’s son for all mankind, and as Jesus died the temple curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the mankind was split from top to bottom – God spirit had left, to return at Penticost. Jesus had briidged the gap between imperfect sinners (us) and the holiest of beings (God). OK, that’s Christianity 101… here ends the lesson!

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  18. menace (407 comments) says:

    Haha, cool i remember most of the places in the photos.
    Israel is a trip man, didn’t think i would ever be going there but fate brought about that i did.
    My first experience of Israelis was they are an arrogant noisey bunch, I was in india for 3 months once and they were everywhere. They all go traveling after there military time and india being one of the cheaper destinations coupled with the prevalence of cheap Charas(hashhish). They generally go around in big groups and were by standards of NZ or India were very noisey and arrogant.
    But in my visit to Israel i go tot understand there culture and how it worked and htat they are actually quite fine people.

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