Dome on the Rock

Friday 28th March

The posts from 20-28 March 2014 were originally posts formatted for Tumblr. Click here to see the original blog.

There was a whole morning to spend wondering around Jerusalem at leisure before flying home today. Christine, Clive and I decided we would take a walk around the rampart. Only half of the walls were open today, presumably because it was Friday and the security forces were twitchy, so we could only walk the west side. That was good as we have become quite familiar with East Jerusalem and this gave a different perspective.

West Jerusalem is exactly as the name would suggest – more western. Looking out from these walls over the outer city it looked like any bustling busy highly developed European city. I guess the ramparts are a strong metaphor of how the predominantly Jewish Israeli population here feel. They need a wall between them and the Arabs. They do, of course, have a huge separation wall that separates those parts of Israel controlled by the Palestinian Authority (The Gaza Strip and The West Bank) from those places under Israeli State control. Our minibus has sped along lengths of this wall for much of the week, only stopping at check-points, but stopping for a photo shoot has been right off limits. So these ramparts, now maintained for tourist access at ₪16 per adult, serve as a metaphor.

Pictured above:

  • Top: panorama looking out over West Jerusalem from the ramparts.
  • Triptych left: Excavated Herodian foundations just below the western ramparts.
  • Triptych middle: A cafe culture square in the Jewish Quarter on the western side of the Old City.
  • Triptych right: A market street in the Jewish quarter. Its glass fronted shops, carefully manicured stone work, expensive goods and open space is in strong contrast with the Arab Quarter. This was a more pleasant experience, but there seemed so much more life and vibrancy amid the corded and messy streets on the east side.

I am left wondering why it is that Jewish streets and Arab streets are so different. Is it because of an imbalance in power advantaging Hebrew culture or is it because Arab society doesn’t care about building the city? My inner city experience in the UK suggests to me there is much more of the former than the latter.

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Tim Stratford

Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford Dean of Chester

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