Holiest City on Earth

Jerusalem, Israel. What a contrast of spiritual values in such a small, walled city. One square mile in size, Jerusalem is home to three of the five most important religions invented by humans (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity). Katja and I started our tour of Jerusalem at the Western, or Wailing Wall. The wall is revered by Jews for the synagogues destroyed there in the past. The rabbis seemed right out of the Old Testament with their singing, chanting, and heads bobbing toward the wall.

Our second stop was up to the sacred Islamic Temple Mount, the very place where Mohammed ascended to heaven. Katja and I got yelled at for holding hands inside the mosque. Soon after, we got kicked out of the complex for having a smoke in the garden. Cool place, though.

Lastly on our "Religious Disneyland Tour" we entered the Christian Quarter and the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church sits on the very turf where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected (or so the story goes). The church is not a place for mass however, but more like a showplace for gaudy icons. Outside the church are numerous shops and stalls commercializing the whole affair.

Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter in the Old City.

A sign of the times in the narrow streets around the Old City are patrols of Israeli troops and police wearing flack jackets and toting automatic weapons. Because of terrorist bombings in recent months, tensions between Arabs and Jews were at an all time high. We had been warned not to venture into the Muslim areas by night. As a Westerner, or possible Jew sympathizer, we may be a terrorist's target. All this makes for a very uncertain future, much like the uncertainty looming over Hong Kong. Time will only tell us the fate of these two states.

The race between ignorance and education never meant so much at such a crucial time. But with surging populations, basic denial of education for Palestinians, and the characteristically high tempers in the Arab world, I'd give this region the greatest probability for continued fighting and chaos in years to come. Isn't there such a thing as the "Brotherhood of Religion" ?

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