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Impressions of Israel

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Israel is not a country like any other to visit. It carries the weight of its complex and ancient history, the burden of being at the delicate crossroads of the three religions of the Bible, the legacy of a people that has not just been persecuted by the Nazis, but also in times and places when and where words like 'ghetto' and 'pogrom' came to be, the responsibility of holding some of the crucial keys to pry open the box and release the good fairy of Peace rather than Pandora. How complex and challenging this all is, is hardly describable. But it helps to read 'O Jerusalem' of Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre who tried to capture the real life's tragedies endured by all, caught in the whirls of politics back in the early days of Israel's State foundation. And think, reflect. And, while doing so, do not forget to enjoy the little wonders of nature at Rosh Hanikra, the Dead Sea and the canyon land of Kedron, and get inspired by visits to the ancient sites which tangibly connect the dots of legend, belief and history, from Biblical times to Rome, Byzantium, Crusader kingdoms, Muslim dynasties and 20th century British rule. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed with impressions of Israel, no matter how many more questions than answers you may remain stuck with in the end.


* Scanned Slides, 1980, 2000

Before visiting the place of your choice:

Already inhabited by the Canaanites from the 14th century BC onward at least, Bethlehem is of course above all associated with the Birth of Jesus. Roman emperor Hadrianus had destroyed the settlement in the 2nd century AD, but it was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Konstantinos the Great and his mother Helena. The Great Church of the Nativity originally dates from 327. Over the centuries it was several times damaged, rebuilt and repaired with additions giving it more the look of military barracks than a church. In 1967 Bethlehem was seized from Jordan and it has been under the administration of the Palestinian Authority since 1995 as a result of the Oslo Agreements. The Nativity church itself is also covered by the 'Status Quo' arrangement of 1757, by which the Ottoman Sultan Osman III had proclaimed a formal understanding among the various Christian communities regarding ownership and management of a series of holy places, including the Nativity church.

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