The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Founded by St. Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, during her fourth century pilgrimage to uncover the Christian holy places, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre incorporates many of the places associated with Jesus’s crucifixion and death (the last four Stations of the Cross, to be specific). Having been destroyed by conflict and fire, and continuously rebuilt and expanded, it is a historical mishmash comparable, among the sites we have visited, only to the Sri Meenakshi Temple of Madurai in South India (see post of 3.19)–not remotely an architectural masterpiece of aesthetic harmony but an awe-inspiring complex of medieval and modern chapels and shrines, pulsing with pilgrims and seething with spirituality. This is no museum, as the great cathedrals of Europe sometimes feel, but a place where the most sacred, whether true or false, can be literally touched and felt.

Pilgrim outside of the “edicule,” the shrine surrounding Christ’s tomb, lighting and extinguishing candles to take home

Catholic chapel on Golgotha, or Calvary, the location of the crucifixion

Every stone, even every crack in every stone, seems to have a story, going as far back as Adam, the first man. The rock of Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion, is exposed, not only to be seen but touched. Dark stairs lead to the place that St. Helena is said to have discovered the True Cross, the walls leading the site etched with countless crosses, left by medieval pilgrims with apparently ample time. All around are remnants of Crusader churches and columns, mosaics and icons, old and new, and on the wall the sword of the Crusader Godfrey of Bouillon. Ambulatories open into chapels with Roman, Greek and Armenian script. The floor is a mosaic of paving stones, mismatched and laid in various eras, their relative blackness suggesting their age.

Crosses etched into walls in medieval times

Dome above the Greek Orthodox Catholicon

An Italian pilgrim crosses himself. Greeks await service in the Greek Orthodox Catholicon. A Filipino group recites the Lord’s Prayer in English after having carried a wooden cross along the length of the Via Dolorosa. Dozens of pilgrims wait in line for their few seconds inside the Tomb of Christ. Mother Teresa nuns light candles on the Golgotha shrine. Indian and African Christians wipe the Stone of Unction with scarves, as if to absorb residual blood, the power of Christ. Polish pilgrims scrape the mortar from between the church’s bricks, to take back home a piece of the sacred building. All around are priests in myriad vestments–Coptic monks in their hoods, Orthodox priests in their caps, Franciscans in their frocks–walking around with keys, crosses and artifacts for services.

In the basement, an Ethiopian Orthodox chapel

African Christian at the Stone of Unction, on which the body of Christ is said to have been lain after his crucifixion

Central dome, with top of the “edicule,” the shrine surrounding Christ’s tomb, rising at bottom

The Wall

In late 1947, the United Nations called for the partition of what was then known as Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, and in 1948 the state of Israel was born, all after some fifty years of Jewish agitation for a national homeland (including a series of anti-British and anti-Arab Jewish terrorist attacks in the 1930s and 1940s). In 1967, Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War over its Arab neighbors led to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the two territories that were intended to form the bulk of the Arab Palestinian state, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights (see post of 5.3), a situation that is not only unstable in itself, but contributes more than any other single dispute to global instability, to this day.

Over the years, Israel has maintained various levels of command over the occupied Palestinian Territories. All entries to the West Bank are controlled by Israel, meaning that one must pass through Israeli immigration and customs in order to enter or leave the Palestinian Territories. As Israeli authorities have complete say over who gets in and out, one Brit teaching in the West Bank told us that he was cautious about voicing political opinions for fear that the Israelis would refuse him entry. An American professor that we met told us that the Israelis refuse exit to a Palestinian human rights activist friend of his, even to attend academic conferences. Additionally, there are numerous Israeli checkpoints throughout the West Bank, and one must go through identification and security checks even to move between many Palestinian towns. While, at least day-to-day, Israeli forces are not visibly active in most Palestinian areas, and the West Bank cities that we visited seemed peaceful, economically active and at least superficially free, Israeli forces are never far away, often surveying areas from armed hilltop posts.

Huwwara checkpoint, through which all who wish to exit Nablus southward for other parts of the West Bank must pass. No doubt, the security checkpoints are also intended to serve as reminders to the Palestinians that the Israelis are in control–there are always long lines here and the experience and conditions left us feeling a bit more cattle than human. One wonders what Arab and Israeli parents tell their children about each other and the state of their lands.

“Occupation” is to some extent not quite the right word, as Israel has outright annexed certain portions of Palestinian land, particularly in and around the city of Jerusalem. Some of this land may be returned to an Arab Palestinian state once one is established (and are essential bargaining chips in the negotiations), but other areas, on which Israelis have built “settlements” (somewhat akin to colonies), are likely to remain a part of Israel. Even if it is implausible that Zionism’s ultimate goal is to expand Israel indefinitely (including up to Iran, as one otherwise reasonable Iranian told us), it is hard to dispute that Israel has, for whatever reason, been largely in a land-acquisitive mode since its creation.

Israeli groups have, sometimes through duplicitous means, acquired property in the Christian, Muslim and Armenian Quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem, seeking to expand the Jewish footprint in the Old City, which most would argue belongs in the future Arab Palestinian state. This building, in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, imperiously announces its Israeli ownership.

An Israeli settlement near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. We were repeatedly told that many of the most aggressive and radical Israeli settlers are American.

Most controversially of all, since 2002, Israel has been constructing a wall cordoning off much of the West Bank, the real focus of this post. Passage remains possible (for some) through checkpoints, but the wall has of course had the effect of destroying the Palestinian neighborhoods through which it passes. The wall has had the desired impact of reducing active Palestinian-Israeli hostility, but one wonders at what cost. Driving along the wall, we saw entire neighborhoods that had been essentially shut down and abandoned because of the wall. The wall cuts off family members who live across town or even down the street, people from their jobs and farmers from their fields, with essentially all of the negatives effects falling to the Palestinian Arabs, through whose land the wall cuts. The wall is but one of many barriers created on Palestinian land, including “bypass” highways connecting Israeli settlements, which are not allowed to be used by Palestinians (Israeli license plates have small Israeli flags, making for quick identification), and some observers see the wall (and its meandering “routing”) as one more step in a systematic effort by Israel to expand its boundaries into Palestinian land.

Snaking across the hills outside of the city of Jerusalem

To someone with Christian sympathies, it is especially heartbreaking to see the walls around the (Arab Christian) West Bank city of Bethlehem. To me, it is one of the wonders of the conflict that so many western Christians are fervent promoters of the state of Israel, when arguably it is the Christian Palestinians, such as those in Bethlehem, for whom they should feel more kindred sympathy.

The walls near Bethlehem have also become the premier “gallery” for art on the wall, created by Palestinians and sympathetic Europeans, reminiscent of graffiti on the former Berlin Wall.

One piece of graffiti near the “entrance” to Bethlehem said “Welcome to the Ghetto.” Of course, the word “ghetto” comes from medieval Venice, where Jews were required to live in a small neighborhood near the foundry (“ghetto” in Italian). Other graffiti also point in one way or another to the irony that Jewish Israelis are now the ones enforcing ghettos.

“Made in USA.” Palestinians often cite the economic support that the U.S. provides to Israel in connection with the high cost of constructing the wall. It is hard to underestimate the resentment that Muslims around the world have not only against Israel, for its existence and its occupation of Palestinian territory, but against the U.S., for its support of Israel. Even in places where love of the U.S. and all things American seems deeply ingrained, many Muslims complain bitterly of American policy on Israel and Palestine.

A Palestinian Guernica

Fanatics in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a special place, no doubt about it. Given its role as a focal point of the faiths of so many billions of people around the world, combined with its extremely troubled recent history (and indeed its bloody history going back thousands of years), one should not expect Jerusalem simply to be beautiful, or sophisticated, or peaceful, or many other such usual positive qualities one would expect of a great city. Jerusalem transcends such metrics; it does not need to be any of those things to justify its place on the world stage. But approaching the city as a skeptic, from a secular viewpoint, what strikes one most about the city is just how crazy so much of its residents and visitors seem.

A Palestinian Arab described Jerusalem to us, before we arrived, as somewhere fanatical Jews and Muslims flock so that they can hate each other at close proximity. This description gave us a sense of what to expect, but in a couple of key respects I believe it falls short. First, while it is certainly true that Jerusalem attracts the most fanatical, the most radically conservative of many different religions and concentrates them, such that the medium-sized city is almost bursting with both positive and negative spiritual energy, the palpable level of tension does not quite rise to the level of hatred. Disdain, simmering resentment, quiet contempt, perhaps, but the Jewish and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are clearly accustomed to each other by now, living in peace at absurdly close proximity.

Even more so, I think the Palestinian’s description of Jerusalem was incomplete in its description of the fanatical parties. I saw no indications of Islamic extremism at all; for the most part, the Palestinians of Jerusalem seemed quite moderate in religious practice–comparable to their neighbors in Jordan and nothing remotely approaching the levels in Iran or Pakistan. Nor, despite their valiant efforts, would I say that the Jews take the title of most fanatical in Jerusalem. No, the prize for the weirdest, most fanatical population of Jerusalem goes to… American Christians.

This apparently Appalachian family, complete with many suspendered children, seems to have moved into the roof of a Jerusalem hostel, complete with hoisting of the stars and stripes.

We ran into perhaps the greatest weirdness on our first evening in Jerusalem. We had just arrived in town and were visiting the Garden Tomb, said to be the tomb of Jesus Christ by those who reject the location of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as inauthentic (mainly by protestant Christians who coincidentally control the site and have no “stake” in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). We were standing just in front of the tomb itself when we couldn’t help but notice in front of us a small group of middle-aged American women. We could tell from their accents and clothing that they came from somewhere in middle America, probably from what we would have called a “red state” in previous elections. One was just coming out of the tomb, and seemed to trip, almost collapse, recover, and then almost collapse again and again. We couldn’t tell if she was kidding or if there was something physically wrong with her. Her companions seemed to find humor in this, though, so we asked what was going on. “She’s getting joy bumps from the Holy Spirit, man!” we were told. The woman said this gleefully but seriously–I had to look away in order to painfully suppress my laughter. I went into the tomb (I thought for sure that would put an end to any laughter), and another woman from their group was groaning or chanting, I couldn’t tell which, in front of where the body of Christ would have been. Back outside she related to the others how she could see the purple outline of Christ every time she closed her eyes. “Oh, there He is again!” she cooed after closing her eyes once more. We saw what we think was the same group later, walking the ramparts of the Old City while waving a banner and singing hymns. The same group was seen once more, outside the Cenacle (the room in which Jesus took his Last Supper), cheering as each member ran under the bridged arms of the others as if they would soon be partaking in a homecoming football game–at an extremely high (typically American) volume given the worshipping that was going on at the nearby Jewish Tomb of David.

Let’s hope that it’s the same group–I’d really prefer that there only be one.

Not to be outdone, Catholic worship is on peculiar display as well. Along some of the main streets of the Old City, from St. Stephen’s Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is the Via Dolorosa, along which are the Stations of the Cross that Jesus suffered in his Passion. Now, I understand and respect the serious sentiments that are connected to this walkway–and I was moved by a feeling of pilgrimage as I traced the route, armed with excerpts from the Bible–but religious tour groups, doing the walk with a large wooden cross?

As we passed, we could hear their priest-guide asking whether everyone had had their turn. It was a relief to see that a Filipino group carrying the cross didn’t nail anyone up at the end of their walk, as they do annually in their home country (though Derek’s camera was clearly disappointed).

The level of intolerance among some is striking as well. There was an elderly British man in our hotel, located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, who spent quite a few hours sitting on a chair outside his room reading from the Bible. Now, many if not most travelers to Jerusalem are motivated by a sense of pilgrimage, and so to read the scripture is not an uncommon activity. We had a brief chat with him, and he explained that he hadn’t read the Gospels in a while and so thought he would re-read them while in Jerusalem. He also went on to explain how it was so sad that “they” (meaning the Muslims) get “so close” to Christianity but “fall short,” believing in Jesus and many of his deeds but not grasping the nature of his divinity. “Oh well, the Lord will separate the goats from the sheep.” Not only was he prepared to bar an entire people from the gates of heaven, but he just assumed that we, apparently non-Muslim and by default Christian, would think the issue as black and white as he apparently did.

One is never sure when the weirdness will strike. In one instance, we were having a perfectly fine chat with a Canadian Christian at Christ Church, about this and that, when suddenly she started staring at us with a very disturbing, “I just drank the kool-aid, how about you?” sort of look. Creepy.

The second prize for fanaticism goes to the Jews. Not all the Jews mind you–Israel as a whole is a fairly progressive secular state–but Jerusalem in particular certainly has its share of the bizarrely ultra-orthodox. Hasidim are all over. The New Yorkers among you are familiar with them of course, as are we from our journeys on the Williamsburg Bridge, in the 47th Street diamond district and to B&H Photo, but I was somewhat surprised at their number. Judging from Jerusalem alone (which of course would be horribly misguided and inaccurate), one would be tempted to think that the Hasidic movement made up a significant percentage of the world Jewry and the population of Israel.

Called one of the world’s “most reluctant” tourist attractions by Lonely Planet, the ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim is but a short walk from the Old City of Jerusalem. Its residents, who came from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century, have recreated a shtetl.

“Jews are NOT Zionists,” in Hebrew, Arabic and English. The residents of Mea Shearim are so conservative that they actually do not support Zionism or the existence of the State of Israel. Needless to say, their relations with other Jewish Israelis are not particularly strong.

Highly visible within the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem (actually, highly visible also in New York and other Jewish centers around the world) is the Chabad movement of Orthodox Jewish Hasidism. Chabad’s institutions seem to serve fairly reasonable educational and cultural aims, but the underlying theology behind the movement is that its actions will bring about the Messiah. Further, some Chabad believers think that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, *was* the Messiah.

Speaking of millenarianism generally: Don’t the sensible, scientific-minded of the world have some sort of responsibility to band together and make sure that the extremists who actively pray for the end of the world as we know it to come, be they Jewish or Shia or Evangelical Christian (see posts of 10.19 and 5.20), have as little influence as possible on the global agenda? Those of us who like life on Earth and want to improve it with the resources at hand–how do we defeat the others, the most extreme and radical elements of our societies, and ensure that they do not drive the rest of us to destruction?

The thing that they’re wearing is called a tefillin. I think it’s pretty weird–how about you?

Lest people think that this post sounds anti-religious, let me note that all of this is coming from someone raised in a Christian faith and with deep sympathies to religion (Derek calls me a “closet Catholic”). We are accustomed to Christian vestments and the hairdos and outfits of the Hasidim–to those who have not seem them before, how does one explain the bizarrely medieval dress of the Christian and Jewish religious? After spending a few hours walking around the Old City of Jerusalem, one would not be surprised to see a fully armored knight ride past. Perhaps the exterior reflects the medieval mindset inside the clothes?

PS: From Tel Aviv, it’s almost hard to believe that Jerusalem is only an hour away. Tel Aviv is most reminiscent of nice parts of New York or San Francisco, and many of its trendiest restaurants seem to include at least one pork item on the menu, as if to signal their non-adherence to kosher rules and therefore their cosmopolitan, secular clientele, and say, “observant Jews not welcome.” Derek says it was one of the best pork chops he’s ever had–I think second best to a certain pork chop in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Churches of Jerusalem

Is Jerusalem a Jewish city or a Muslim city? The answer may be none of the above.

The Benedictine Church of the Dormition on Mount Zion

As is well known, Jerusalem is claimed as their own by both the mostly Muslim Arab Palestinians and the Jewish Israelis. Supporting the Palestinians’ claim is the fact that the Old City of Jerusalem lies within most of the internationally accepted boundaries of Arab Palestine and that its residents are, for the most part, Arabs. At least since Saladin allowed the Crusaders to flee the city with their lives and until the rise of Zionism–a period spanning almost a millenium–Jerusalem has in fact been an Arab city. Supporting the Israelis’ claim is that Jerusalem’s earliest (and arguably most glorious) years, some two thousand years ago, were Jewish and Israel’s clear effective control of the city today. The state of Israel has occupied not only Jerusalem but all of the West Bank since 1967, and considers Jerusalem, including the Old City, an integral part of the nation. The Israelis have in the twentieth century built Jerusalem, particularly in the areas west of the Old City that are recognized by the international community to be part of Israel, into a large and prosperous modern city (one that is, I should add, quite expensive, even by Western European/North American standards).

But however strong the Arab and Jewish claims to Jerusalem may be, walking around the Old City of Jerusalem, it is hard not to feel that the Christians are the ones in possession. The Israelis may be in power, yes, but the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem is largely limited to the Jewish Quarter, a substantially rebuilt (since 1967) and fairly sterile neighborhood in the southern part of the Old City, bounded by the Armenian Quarter and the Western (Wailing) Wall. The Arabs may dominate the Old City in population, but, perhaps because the theological importance of Jerusalem to Islam is not at the same level as the city’s primacy to Christians and Jews, or because Muslim pilgrimage to Jerusalem is restricted by political circumstances, the Arab presence seems largely residential. The Arabs live and work in Jerusalem, but don’t seem to be engaged in the same range of activities–politicking, sightseeing and worshipping–as the Jews and Christians. Even the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock feel more like neighborhood places of worship in terms of non-tourist traffic. Compared to the Jews or the Muslims, it is the Christians who are the most conspicuous: Christians occupy the greatest number of substantial places of worship (scattered all over the Old City), account for the majority of humanity flowing in and out of the city and to a large extent create the unique international character of the city.

And, surprisingly to me, much of the Christian presence in Jerusalem is fairly recent. While there are many important relics from the historical Christian eras of Jerusalem, the periods of Byzantine and Crusader control (from the fourth to the seventh centuries and in the twelfth century, respectively), many of the Christian constructions in and around Jerusalem have been built since the 19th century, when in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire the European colonial powers established various forms of “presences” in Jerusalem, often accompanied by men of the cloth who resought Jerusalem real estate for religious establishments. This European control solidified after World War I, when Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine became part of the British Mandate, and third party administration was envisaged to be permanent in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, under which Jerusalem was to remain an “international area” apart from Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine. Even if that Partition Plan was never fully implemented, it is almost as if, in the absence of clear title on the part of either the Arabs or the Jews following their wars of the 1940s and 1960s, Jerusalem has remained an international zone held in escrow for Christian worshippers. The international attention on Israel and Palestine continues to bring yet more outsiders into Jerusalem, including especially Christians, keeping Jerusalem within a Christian sphere of influence.

At an institutional level, both the Jews and the Arabs seem to welcome the Christians. The Arab interest in Christianity is probably due to the fact that many of the Palestinians are Christian themselves, as well as a continuation of Islam’s historical tolerance of the Christian and Jewish religious minorities in the Middle East. The Israelis also have many connections to the Christian West, not least of which is that the Jewish Israelis largely came from Europe and the United States and that Christian Zionists had a significant role in the realization of the Israeli state. Bottom line: Jerusalem overflows with Christian churches and pilgrims.

* * *

One reason for the sheer number of Christian religious institutions in Jerusalem is that Christianity is far more splintered than Judaism and Islam in terms of religious organization. As a result of disagreements ranging from the great Ecumenical Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries to the Great Schism to the Reformation, the Christian faith is now represented by dozens if not hundreds of individual sects, many of which feel it important to have a presence in Jerusalem. In this post, I thought I would go over some of the many Christian faiths with a foot in Jerusalem, largely in the crowded Old City.

Chief among the Christians in the Holy Land is the largest Christian denomination, the Roman Catholic Church. In particular, the Franciscan order claims the title of “Guardians of the Holy Places,” given to it by Pope Clement VI in 1342. In Jerusalem referred to as the Latins, Catholics maintain or share primary control over most of the holiest sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the historically accepted site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.

The Latin Patriarchate, with its Crusader reference

Next, and historical rivals to the Catholics for control over the Holy Land, is the Greek Orthodox Church. Especially during the period of Ottoman control, the Greek Orthodox Church, geographically more native to the eastern Mediterranean and the Levant than the Western European Catholics, challenged the Franciscans for control of the holy places, resulting in great conflict and a series of lawsuits. Jurisdiction over some of these sites, including primarily the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is now shared, but the precise parameters of control are not codified, such that turf battles, inch by inch and rock by rock, very much live on in the 21st century, even resulting in occasional physical altercations among clerics.

There is a myriad of Jerusalem sites allegedly related to the life and death of Christ, on many of which has been erected a church. This Greek Orthodox church is said to be on the site of the place Jesus was held prior to his crucifixion, the “Prison of Christ.”

Challenging both the Roman Catholics and the Greek Orthodox in visibility if not authority is the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Armenians (a widely scattered lot, see post of 5.17) have an entire Armenian Quarter within the Old City of Jerusalem, where they have lived continuously since well before the Crusades, striking deals with various conquerers to avoid the expulsion that was the fate of so many other groups. The Armenian Apostolic Church is the third faith to have control over key parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Inside the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, located within the fortified Armenian Quarter

The Copts and the Ethiopians, two more Orthodox churches with ancient and distinctive histories, have significant establishments in Jerusalem. In addition to their more physically substantial holdings, the Copts have built (“illegally,” I have read) a shrine on the back of the “edicule” housing the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Ethiopians maintain a chapel in an odd but atmospheric basement-like area within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex, making them two other religions with a presence within that most holy of churches. I have also read that there is quite an active dispute among the two faiths over a bit of roof space on an adjoining building!

Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

Ethiopian chapel within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex

Ethiopian convent

In addition to this convent, the Syrian Orthodox Church maintains a chapel within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Two other eastern churches, which are now in communion with the Roman Catholic Church: the Greek Catholic or “Melkite” Church and the Maronite Church

The Russian Orthodox Church’s most prominent Jerusalem outpost is outside of the Old City walls on the Mount of Olives, but the characteristic domes of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene are visible from miles away.

Of the Protestant faiths, the Anglican Church has by far the best real estate, within the Old City just steps from Jaffa Gate and the Citadel. Christ Church also has perhaps one of the most interesting histories among the newer churches in Jerusalem. The church was founded in 1845 by a British organization called The London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews (since renamed The Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People), a group of evangelical Christians who believed that, by converting the Jews, they could prepare the world for Christ’s return (a reading of Romans 11). Christ Church is a very tangible reminder of how important evangelical Christians were in the history of Zionism and the formation of the state of Israel, just as American evangelicals today continue to support the Jewish state in supposed furtherance of some biblical or millenarian goal.

The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Even the newest major Christian faith, the Church of Latter Day Saints, has made it to Jerusalem. The Mormons operate a university and garden on the Mount of Olives, just outside of the Old City.

Mormons in the Jewish Quarter

Faces of Palestine

We were not in the Palestinian Territories for long, but I thought it still meaningful to do this post showing you some of the people we met in Arab Palestine. One of the aims of this blog is to be able to put a face on a place, and few places need this more than Palestine. Note the absence of rocks and molotov cocktails.

Children, Nablus

Older man, Nablus

“Arab” dress is uncommon in coastal and modern Palestine (cf. post of 10.13)

Aramaic-speaking Christian cobbler of Syrian origin, Bethlehem. More than 80 years old, he told us that to live in the West Bank is to “live in a prison.”

Young men, Ramallah. Ramallah, just outside of Jerusalem, is currently the commercial and logistical hub of the West Bank. The man with the Major League Baseball hat was a Palestinian-American visiting relatives, and greeted us with a double-take invoking, American-accented “How ya doin’?” The Jewish reverse-diaspora into Palestine has resulted in a massive diaspora of Arab Palestinians all over the world, and in our time in the Middle East we have met Palestinian refugees in Syria, Jordan and the Gulf, and from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

A Samaritan. A good one? Certainly seemed nice enough. The Samaritans form a “sect” of Judaism, and are now citizens of Israel, but have lived peacefully among the Palestinian Arabs for many hundreds of years.

Muslims of African descent, Jerusalem. These children are part of a community of 2000 or so Palestinians of African descent–principally Senegal, Niger, Chad and Sudan–who live in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount. Many families have lived in Jerusalem for some 150 years.