Tuesday, November 9, 2010

God is not good at real estate

God may be good at a number of things but his strong point is not real estate.  Now if I was going to pick a place for people to live it would not be Palestine, which seems to be mainly a large collection of rocks and dust surrounded by desert. 

I mean if this is the best he could do it shows great poverty of imagination. Perhaps he was too focused on beetles and winged creatures to worry about the earthly environment.

Anyway we went to see the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, Jericho and a number of other very dusty places. Cate paddled in the Dead Sea because this has apparently been a lifelong dream of hers. (?) The place we went to is very popular and people cover themselves in mud and stand about baking in the sun. I kept a safe distance.

Our driver knows everyone in Palestine and his role was to introduce us to most of them so that they could extract money from us. He was remarkably good at this. We had some trouble getting to the place where Jesus was born because once again it was packed to the rafters with pilgrims. However we had a guide (a relative of the driver) who took us through the vast throngs and sweaty masses without the necessity to line up. Every pilgrim wanted to kiss the exact spot where Jesus was born. 

This was easy to find because it is conveniently marked with a big silver star (a gift from the French in 1717). The kissing thing looked to be decidedly unsanitary so we did not consider indulging.

As in Jerusalem – there were large numbers of very young men with very big guns – only these men were Palestinian. They did not look unfriendly but we gave them no cause for alarm and conducted our pilgrimage in a very circumspect manner – smiling sweetly from the back seat at the soldiers who stopped us at the barriers and inspected us for signs of either hostility or lack of religiosity.

Cate and I of course both had to suspend disbelief to enable us to do all that we did because we don’t actually believe any of it. But that did not stop us from immersing ourselves in the ancientness of the sites.

I must admit that I found Jerusalem and Palestine to be depressing. I never comment on the politics of the situation – as indeed I never comment on anything to do with Islam  - for the very simple reason that I will be flamed by hostile comments as soon as I do – if not hunted down and killed.

But – they are sad places. Armed soldiers everywhere, barriers, barbed wire, poverty, religious nutters,  gigantic fences to keep the Palestinians out of Israel and Israeli settlements – and no indication that this situation will ever end. I rather suspect that this sorry saga will not have a happy ending.


  1. well, thanks badger. thats cheered me up.

  2. good blog! first sentence definitely drew me in...and the picture!

  3. angiv: We aim to please and cheer.

    christinaslittleworldtwo: I hope the health giving properties match the ordeal.