Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Separation Wall Discussion and Tour

This afternoon we had an Israeli lawyer and political activist, Danny Seidemann, come in and talk to our students about the history of Jerusalem since 1947, focusing on its contested state and fluxuating borders (see his interactive website).  The last part of his lecture focused on the so-called "Separation Barrier" that the Israelis have built between much of the West Bank and Israel proper, which in and around Jerusalem takes the form of a massive, concrete wall.  While the barrier causes considerable social and economic hardship on the Arab sector, many Israelis point to the drop in suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism since it was built.

In addition to last semester's blog post, below are pictures from today's tour of three sites: the Seven Arches Overlook, where Mr. Seidemann talked to us about the demographics of Jerusalem and pointed out the particular problem of the contested status of the Old City; a point in Bethphage where the Wall separates Palestinians in Jerusalem from Palestinians in adjoining Bethany (Al-Lazaria); and a West Bank overlook next to Hebrew University that let us see courses of the wall projecting into the West Bank as well as the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.
Light blue is West Jerusalem before 1967. Green are Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.  Dark blue represents Israeli neighborhoods and/or settlements beyond the recognized international boundary.
Both classes at the Seven Arches Overlook as the dilemma of the Old City is discussed
The Temple Mount and Old City: sacred and important to two nations and three religions

Danny Seidemann lecturing at Seven Arches

While most of the neighborhoods directly north, east, and south of the Old City are Palestinian, the Jewish cemetery on the western slopes of the Mount of Olives is an area that Israelis cannot part with.
Between neighborhood covering New Testament Bethany and Bethpage, the Separation Wall divides not Israeli Jews from Arabs but Palestinians within the Jerusalem municipal boundary and those without.

Danny Seidemann lecturing at the Wall

The following pictures were from an overlook that gives views of the West Bank.  From here we can see the Jordan River Valley and even the mountains and highlands of Jordan beyond.  But more immediately, we can see the Separation Wall blocking off Arab towns and villages from Israeli settlements on the other side.

My Old Testament class
Steve's Old Testament class

Ignoring the desperate over-the-cliff jokesters one can see Ma'ale Adumim beyond the bend of the backside of the Mount of Olives
This was the last "field trip" with our current classes. The Old Testament classes have their final exams a week from tomorrow.  After that I will take Steve Harper's class for New Testament and he will take mine.  The following pictures are just some "final pics" while I am with my first group.

With Megan Taylor and Jennifer Farrell
Tucker Davis is also my second counselor in the elders quorum presidency

Ashley Holt, Stuart Bevan, and Abe McKay

Crystal Myler and Crystal Redmond
These last pictures are of the Tsurim Valley just below our center.  I have included them because they illustrate the incredible beauty that the winter/wet season brings out of usually barren hillsides.  The valley is now a park, part of the "green belt" that includes the Qidron Valley.  While beautiful, these parks are in themselves political.  Israelis are not settling the areas, but they are indirectly controlling them through the parks systems, and some Palestinians complain that this is keeping them from building there.

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