Saturday 30 November 2013

Random 3

An untypical poster on a bus.

A small separate section of the Western Wall in a narrow passage near the Cottom Mechants' Gate.

Above a doorway in the German Colony, housing built by nineteenth century teutonic millennialists but now part of prosperous Jewish west Jerusalem.

General Gordon thought he could see a face at this site just outside the present city wall and so identified it as 'the place of the skull' and thus of Jesus' crucifixion. 

A single star over Bethlehem.  What are the chances of that?

'Our Lady of the Wall' near the Bethlehem checkpoint and written (painted) by an English icon writer who trains local icon writers in the monastery next door to it.

Friday 29 November 2013

Thursday 28 November 2013

Constantinian threshold

Notwithstanding my recent post, Deborah proves a very useful pointer in this picture, which shows her looking through a grill into a cellar immediately east of the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the twin domes of which will be familiar from a number of earlier posts).

The same window is top left in this picture, and we are still looking in the same direction so the lower levels of the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre are somewhere beyond the wall we are facing.  We are in a storeroom behind a workers' cafe.

Ignore the arch, wall and pillar which are the apparent main features of this picture, but which are later and are at right angles to the the purpose of this visit.  Running from left to right across the room is the threshold of the fourth century Church of the Holy Sepulchre (which extended much further east than the present church).

Here it is.  Not the most inspiring site in the Holy Land, but an extraordinary survival of the church destroyed by the Persians at the beginning of the seventh century, and equally extraordinary to find it tucked away in this storeroom.  The west end of the original church stood where the west end of the present church stands (obviously - this is the where the traditional site of Jesus' tomb is) but the original church had a courtyard east of this and then a cloistered atrium east of that - and this entrance line belongs to that atrium and is a threshold people like St Helena would have crossed.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Hammam Al-Ayn

There are couples whose travel photographs consist mainly of each other in front of the sites they visit.  All very appropriate, sweet, touching etc.

We, however, have spent seven and two thirds years gently asking the other to move over a bit so as not to get in the way of the view one of us is trying to capture.  Make of that what you will.

This is the view she was capturing

In this space - a former bath in use as a gallery where today we enjoyed the setting and the exhibition of photographs of Cordoba in equal measure.

Ironically, it was in the Cathedral in Cordoba that she was last reprimanded by a policeman for being on her back on the floor trying to take a photograph.

Monday 25 November 2013

Talking about Palestine

Before coming here, I read a tiny bit about the present Israel-Palestinian situation, and, in passing, I noticed something slightly odd without giving it much attention to it.

A few years ago prominent Palestinian Christians produced a Kairos document, titled in homage to the Kairos declaration which defined the ultimately successful anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa including the significant boycott campaign which contributed to that success.
This summer there was a form of re-launch of this in England which was reported on in a number of mainstream Christian websites.  These understandably attracted positive and negative comments.  The thing I half noticed was the way some of the hostile comments were lengthy, detailed and carefully crafted pieces of writing – quite unlike the splurge of personal opinion one might expect – more like pre-prepared packages.

As I say, I didn’t pay much attention, until I learnt here that public statements drawing attention to the situation of the Palestinian people often attract a level of hostile attack which can look quite calculated.  There is nothing wrong with well planned lobbying, of course, especially if it looks as if the legitimacy of a State of Israel is being attacked, but the tone and volume can look almost intimidatory.

I'm told that the volume of comments is sometimes swamping, and that the accusation is sometimes made that the original item was anti-semitic simply because it criticised the way the State of Israel is governed, but I don't have personal encounters with either of these.

In this sort of situation there is always a simple but effective interpretative tool.  Look at the counter arguments which are being put forward – there may well be things about the original report which need balancing or correcting.  But also, if these comments look at all as if they might be calculated or even intimidatory, let them be exactly the thing which draws your attention to the precise points they might appear to be trying to drown out.

In the case of the comments which I first half-noticed, the points were the language of apartheid in relation to the State of Israel and the call for forms of boycott to tackle this.

As far as the apartheid accusation is concerned, the level of objection to it would lead one seriously to consider whether it is an appropriate term to use in relation to the occupied State of Palestine in particular where things like access to systems of justice, use of particular roads, the ability to bring a foreign spouse into the country and the provision of water is different depending on whether the individual or community is Arab or Jewish. 

At present the headline issue within the State of Israel itself is proposals to move Israeli citizens who are Bedouin from villages the state chooses not to recognise into other designated towns so that new Jewish villages can be built in their place.  Individuals have to judge what language they think is appropriate about that.

As far as the calls for boycotts are concerned, the suggestion is that there is now particular diplomatic time being put in by some embassies to address and counter what some churches are investigating and saying.  It is understandable that any State would want to do this if it feels misinformation is being spread about the State.  In each specific case, individuals have then to judge from which side they feel misinformation is coming.

The picture was taken in Jericho yesterday.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Posting pause

We have been at a Conference in the centre of Jerusalem for a few days (finishing tomorrow), usually leaving here very early and returning very late, so have not been taking many new pictures nor having much time to type thoughts, but normal service will be resumed next week.  The picture of the Temple Mount was taken from the Russian Convent last week.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Today's arty photos

The church at Gethsemene from the east.

A lantern at the Russian monastery next door, with the Dome of the Rock in the distance.

Some deteriorating joggling.

The Orthodox site of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A different kind of art.

Monday 18 November 2013

Great War Cemetery

This is on Mount Scopus, now close to the Mormon University building which is very visible from the Old City on the skyline along from the Mount of Olives .

There are 2415 burials here, all dating from the tme when the failing Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine, came into the war on the German side; once Britain had taken Jerusalem we remained the occupying power for over thirty years.

This looks back at the Old City so is actually another different view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (with its two domes just right of and below the crossbar of the cross).

This illustrates the standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial stone as we would recognise it from our own churchyards and war cemeteries in England and across France and Flanders.  Shakespeare was an Army train driver born in Derbyshire.

We knew from examples we have seen in Lincolnshire (including Scartho Road, Grimsby) that a slightly different shaped stone is used when a German burial is in one of our war cemeteries, but here we came across for the first time a distinctive memorial stone used for Turkish graves in our war cemeteries ...

... and, almost more surprisingly, also discovered that for Italian burials the variation on the standard stone is simply the addition of this symbol on the side (which I now learn is fasces, a bundle of sticks with an axe, a symbol of Roman magersterial authority, the use of which in the Italian war context gave rise to the term 'fascist').

Saturday 16 November 2013

Olive trees

The picture is here simply to show how little soil they need, only apparent because this tree is sitting at the top of a cutting made to allow the Hebron Road to be widened...

... which is a major part of the explanation of why such trees are ubiquitous in the stony ground round here (often on terraced slopes where the cleared stones form the edges of the terracing).

Friday 15 November 2013

Monastery of the Cross

Within fortess-like walls in a valley in west Jerusalem.

Quite unlike the modern buildings close by which include the parliament and the Israel Museum.

The refectory's tables are stone.

Remaining in the hands of the Greek Orthodox Church although not a flouishing monastery today.

Trdaitionally the site of the tree cut down to make the cross.  Here is Lot watering it.  A long story.

In use as the Greek Seminary until 1906, which is about when this picture was taken.