Jerusalem is the city we are looking now from the outside. We standing on a hill looking at the beautiful city, which has so much history, where so many people are living together in peace and understanding. The cultures our guide talked about, and he counted 20 of them, living together for ages in this city. When in the past the Arabs were conquering this city from the Christians, they did not wipe everyone away! No, they stayed there. After a while, the Muslims were absorbed in this city. When the Crusaders came again and conquered the city, the same happened with them.
Today, we see the actual peoples still living together as they used to do for thousands of years. There are no changes and it also will not change. Those few politicians who like to take advantage of situations for short-term political gain will not make any differences, because those people will soon be replaced by others. Those few individuals who like to kill in the name of those politicians will also not make any difference, they will disappear too.
Visiting the new city of Jerusalem is an eye opener. What the Israeli government has done for the new Jerusalem is almost like a miracle. They took the beauty of Jerusalem as it is, and they managed to extend it, but in a modern coat. They did honor to the city.
We visited the Yad Vashem
Holocaust Memorial, and it’s almost depressing to know and to see what people do to each other. We are very much aware that the six and half million Jews, who perished in such indescribable ways were not the only ones to perish in that disaster in history. Sixty millions died as the direct result of that slaughter. Before that war, 13 millions died in poverty, hunger and disease and before that many millions died in the first Word War, which influenced also the Middle East and of course Israel. The fall of empires, the birth of other empires and new evil was ruling the world. Several Memorials are being built after those wars and this one is the Israeli version of it.
After that impressive visit, we were quiet, not many of us talked and we were deeply impressed by what we saw and by our guide. He understood what we were going through and our mood, and he masterfully brought us to the Knesset.
When an American member of our group saw the Knesset, he whispered “Never again!” That was the true motto of millions after the wars, never again. Israel managed to become strong and never allow anyone and anything to repeat this to happen again with the Jews and any of its Israeli citizens as long as the Jewish state stands strong.
The Supreme Court building is a symbol, a very strong symbol to the world that Israel is not only strong and stays like that, but it is also a democracy. It’s a state for its citizens and looking at this strange building, we all smile. This is a very strong message to the world.
Our day was filled with the visits to the Israel Museum, Dead Sea Scrolls, Shrine of the Book and Second Temple Model. This day was spent well. We saw loads of things, we learned even more and the guide went in a detailed story about the creation of the young Jewish state and it’s path to what it is now.
In the evening we went out for dinner and theater (English speaking).
The next day we woke up early and guess who was with us at breakfast? Right, our guide. According to him we will dive into history again this day and we start with the walls of Solomon and Tel Megiddo.
The walls of Solomon is special, because it’s uncovered recently and it appears it validates another thing from the old testament and Torah. The tenth-century B.C. wall is 70 meters (230 feet) long and about 6 meters (20 feet) tall. It stands along what was then the edge of Jerusalem—between the Temple Mount, still Jerusalem’s paramount landmark, and the ancient City of David, today a modern-day Arab neighborhood called Silwan.
Tel Megiddo is located south of Haifa and the bus trip went on for some hours. The guide was entertaining us with stories about 7,000 BC and many battles were fought here. Megiddo’s Early Bronze Age I (3500–3100 BC) temple has been described by its excavators as the most single edifice uncovered and it’s the largest structures of its time. Indeed, it’s impressive. The stories of the battles and the political word of that time was amazing. Many things, which happened those days in the far, ancient history happens today too. And that’s what the guide tried to explain to us, we live in modern times, but those times are not so special as we might think.
After this piece of very impressive history (we had absolutely no idea. Jerusalem always dominated our impressions we had about Israel, but with the Tel Megiddo this has changed), we continued our tour to Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabha, Mount of the Beatitudes. Our guide told three history stories. Each story was based on the mindset of the Christians, the Israelis and history as it is know. (as factual as possible). And of course he added his own version to the whole mixture. His version was the most juicy one. It was hilarious when he started a discussion of the owner of the Sea of Galilee Worship Boats during the trip on the lake. That night we slept at the hotel Europe in Tiberias, and that experience was extraordinary.
The next day we went to the Golan Heights, Gamla, Katsrin, Talmudic Village, Golan Antiquities Museum, Druze villages of Buq’ata and Mas’ade, pool of Birket Ram, Druze shrine of Nebi Yafouri, Jordan River, Hula Valley.
Well, we only saw the Hula valley, but we will visit that park tomorrow morning and take some hikes there. And then we came to another discovery. We heard the Israeli take on history, then the Christians and the Arabs, but we never heard the version of the Druze!
They had their own kings and leaders and unique history. Their version of the creation story is really nice and great to listen at. Our guide speaks many languages and he allows our hosts to tell their story and he was only translating it to us in four languages.
Dinner that night was with the Druze community. Can’t tell you how tasty their traditional food was, even when it was hot and I burned my mouth and tongue.
The next day it was early awake and up running to Hula Valley Nature Reserve, Oforia, Tel Hazor, Safed. The Hula Valley Nature Reserve was amazing, but not much of a history. This Valley was always there, and not much changed since the beginning of the creation of this Valley hundreds of thousands of years ago. There were some problems with the water in the nature reserve, but the Israelis seemed to have that under control very well.
We went climbing and hiking at Tel Hazor. Very interesting and well preserved. The history of this varies. It depends on who is telling the story, the victor or the historical facts.
The next day we went to visit the Rosh Hanikra, Acre, Knights Halls, Al-Jazaar Mosque, Haifa, Bahai Gardens.
The Hospitaller Fortress is a very interesting building. The guide allowed us to browse and at the end he took us to a nice tour under the city and the Fortress and told the stories about Jews, Arabs and Crusaders fighting each other. One time Acre was occupied by the Muslims, surrounded by the Crusaders and other Muslims surrounded the Crusaders. It was a standstill unique in the military historical wars.
Anyway, we took four tours through Acre. The first one was the Jewish tour (in their perspective). That tour was followed with the Christian tour, then lunch and then we went with the Arab and followed by the historical tour. All those tours covered the same, but the perspectives were so different.
The last, but not the least, the Bahai Gardens. Proof of the freedom of religion in Israel, whatever everyone is claiming. It’s indeed one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. And not only the gardens, also the buildings.
This is the end of this extraordinary tour. It’s a tour, where everyone learns and sees that there are many sides on history, depending on who is telling it. This tour, our guide managed to present a balance between all the known facts and its interpretations. We saw strength, mystery, disaster, ruin, greatness, beauty in this little country. We spoke with the ancient people of the deserts, we spoke with the religious people of multiple faiths, we saw what they were doing and what they represent. My view about Israel is changed for ever.