Friday, June 3, 2011

A sober note about the future

On our last day in Israel we met with Jeff Halper, director of ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions). A former citizen, Halper formed ICAHD in 1967 to work for an end to the occupation by focusing public attention on the illegal seizure of palestinian houses by the Israeli government. Since 1967 Israel has demolished over 25,000 Palestinian homes in order to expand settlements, build Israeli only roads, and erect a wall that imprisons Palestinians and cuts them off from their farmland, other Palestinian villages, and the rest of the world.

When we asked Jeff about the recent visit of Netanyahu to the US, he said Netanyahu's public repoach of President Obama and the enthusiastic reception by our Congress to Netanyahu's speech delighted radical Israelis and dismayed those working for peace in both Israel and Palestine. In his opinion, the peace talks are essentially dead - and his government has been given permission to continue the occupation and confiscate more Palestinian land making a viable, contingent Palestinian state impossible.

With such a future ahead for Palestinians, aparteid or revolution are the only possible outcomes...unless world opinion begins to hold Israel accountable.

God save us.
Bonnie Van Overbeke

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heading home

At the airport toasting the trip with the bar tender Elad who befriended us!
Bonnie Van Overbeke

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A burning bush, a holy place

St Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai is the traditional site for the burning bush as well as the place where God gave Moses the 10 commandments.

This morning we were awoken at 12:45 for a walk up Mt. Sinai for a chance to see the sunrise at the top. We rode camels under the night sky which was filled with stars (think Van Gogh's Starry Night).

About 2/3 of the way up we got off the camel and walked the rest of the way-750 steps - to the top for an awesome view of the sun as it rose in the sky. It was an amazing experience!
Bonnie Van Overbeke

Up to Mt. Sinai

The group went up Mt. Sinai - a spectacular experience caught in these photos by Eugenia Sherman Brown.

Into Egypt

Driving in Egypt along the Gulf of Aqaba, the 5 star resorts were deserted- a result of both the economy and the revolution which made travelers from other country fearful. At Mt Sinai, there were a tenth of the usual number of pilgrims that come to this biblical spot - which means hard times for local guides and camel drivers. We have not found it to be at all unsafe and hope tourism will come back as the country stabilizes it's new democracy.
Bonnie Van Overbeke

Monday, May 30, 2011

The starkness of St. George's Monastery

This monastery overlooks a desolate landscape sometimes referred to as the valley of the shadow of death. The group is perched on the ridge looking over the scene.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oh what a day !

I rose this morning in East Jerusalem at the National Hotel, where I experienced the finest hospitality of any hotel in my life. By mid-morning we stood on a rocky desert rise in the Wadi Qelt overlooking St. George's Monastery - stunning beauty in deep geographic isolation. To Know God. I imagine at St. George's one may flee the noise on the outside and begin to quiet the noise on the inside. Amen. Perhaps someday I may visit this remote community.

A desert whirl followed.....the Qumran caves where a Bedouin boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls and Masada where ancient Jews chose death over slavery. In the afternoon, we took a frivilous float in the Dead Sea. Tired, sweaty, shekel-less, and happy, I arrived in Eilat. After dinner, a shower, good conversation and an ATM, I remain tired and happy......but not so sweaty, and my coffers are restored. I have so much to be grateful for. Tomorrow....Egypt.
With love from the travelers,
Eugenia Sherman Brown