Jerusalem-Contrary to what you read in newspapers or see on cable news networks, the ongoing hostilities between Palestinians and Arabs against Israelis appears to be non-existent in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.
Well, that appeared to be the case when I toured the two cities.
Day 2 of my trip to “The Holy Land” was more of a ‘look and see’ endeavor, where I found myself walking throughout Old Jerusalem and co-mingling with devout burka-wearing Muslims and the most orthodox of Jews.
All of the supposed opposing religious factions within the “Old City” kept to themselves and did not appear to show any animosity or disdain for each other, or to western tourists.
Why wouldn’t day? At the end of the day, what matters the most is making a buck.
Money talks among the scores of food and souvenir vendors that line the stone-paved, casbah-like corridors that make up Old Jerusalem.
Perhaps the visible and not-so-visible Israeli security forces keep “evil-doers” at bay?
Let me just tell you that the visible security presence is impressive, especially since President Trump is less than a week away from visiting Jerusalem.
Here are two mounted soldiers profiling a Arab-looking man. This is common practice, and because I look a bit Middle Eastern, I too had the privilege of having received such unique attention at the airport.
Upon leaving for Bethlehem, I ran into Amin Jodeh.
Jodeh was my self-proclaimed Israeli-Arab guide to the West Bank.
Remember, contrary to what that Trump official said, the town of Bethlehem is in fact part of Israel. Just because it is geographically situated in the West Bank, until there is a two-state solution put into place, the West Bank is part of Israel.
Jodeh, who is a practicing Muslim with an Israeli passport, volunteered his opinion on President Trump.
Like most Palestinians in the area, Jodeh says that “no body knows what is in his (Trump’s) mind,” and that “Israelis say he is good for Israel.” Jodeh added that “Israel preferred George W. Bush over Obama” because “he did the job for Israel, you know what I mean?”
Palestinians don’t know what will happen will Trump, because Obama was so good to them…“For Israel, they don’t like Obama”
I could sense that Jodeh had a little bias towards the Palestinian cause and supports a two-state solution, but because we were crossing into the West Bank, I refrained from engaging into any substantive or in-depth conversation that could strike a nerve.
Again, I was in the West Bank!
Well, regardless of having some pretty advanced Krav Maga skills, being behind this ominous wall that divides Israel with so-called Palestine put my ego in check.
In Bethlehem, like in Old Jerusalem, all of the cultures got along just fine. It was all about the almighty Shekel and the US Dollar.
Upon returning to Jerusalem, we noticed how security forces were already preparing for President Trump’s trip to the holy city next week.
The famous King David Hotel where Trump will most likely stay at, was bustling with activity, as was entrance to the Western Wall, where Trump said he was going to visit.
Oh, hear is a little tid bit of information about the Western Wall. It has long been tradition for visitors to the holiest Jewish site to place a note in the wall that contains a prayer or names of those they wish good will to.
Will President Trump follow my lead of placing a “Lou Lou” in the wall, or will he place a handwritten prayer like former President Obama did in 2008?
It is being reported that Israel will bring in an additional 10,000 security personnel for the visit, and will all-but shut down at least one-third of Jerusalem while the president makes the rounds.
Day 3 of my trip to Israel will take me to Masada, the Dead Sea, and possibly Petra, Jordan.
Here are some more images from Jerusalem: