After a good nights sleep for me at the Tent of Nations (though I think I was in a minority of one), we headed back to the Holy Land Trust's office in Bethlehem to pick up our cases and a few olive wood gifts, before traveling to Jerusalem to meet some students from the Rosberg International School, part of the Hebrew University. I had a very interesting chat with two girls, one from Tel Aviv and one originally from Leeds but who now lives out here, about how they feel about live in Israel, and the future for the region. Like Ardi yesterday, they seem to live in fear of Palestinians, and unsure how a peace could ever be reached. After a brief tour around the university, we got lunch before visiting a street where Israeli settlers are trying to take over house by house. We spoke to a man who has been involved in a legal battle since the 1970s over the ownership of his land. At the moment there is a case of a Palestinian family living in the front of a house, while a Jewish family lives in the back. It seems totally absurd to me.
Then we started our trip north, heading up the beautiful Jordan valley. We stopped at Wadi Qern, which is believed to be where Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. The view was breathtaking! I must say the solitude and landscape was very appealing. I want to take a few days of supplies, a tarp and a bible and head out there on my own. Maybe I will one day.
Then we stopped off at Jericho, and took a picture of 'the tree' that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus, though I must say it didn't look 2000 years old. After a short onward journey, we arrived at Tiberius, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. After dropping our bags off, we headed for dinner. Topics at the dinner table included a brief explanation of the finer points of Methodist Bureaucracy (which Kate asked for, I must say), the 1993 Human Sexuality Report, and vital things that need to go on shopping lists. We returned to the hotel lobby for further chats and games. We heard some good news, apparently the Israeli Government has accepted the demands of the Hunger Strikers (who's solidarity tent we visited in Ramallah), allowing family visits, stopping the use of solitary confinement and other issues. Hopefully this will bring an end to the 77 day hunger strike of two prisoners, and the other, shorter protests of some 2500 more.
Tomorrow is al-Nakba ('the Catastrophe') in which Palestinians remember the founding of the Israeli state. Tensions may be running high tomorrow, but we are well inside Israel now, so will be safe. But please pray that the protests in the Occupied Territories remain peaceful, and that a long term just peace will fall upon this land.