Wednesday 5 July 2017: Alrowwad closed on Wednesdays, so my day off

by ray goodlass

A short entry today. As Alrowwad is closed on Wednesdays I used today to prepare my up-coming classes, and take a trip to Occupied East Jerusalem (officially only 8 km away, but with Israeli check points etc. more like 20) because I wanted to make my annual visit to the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque.

I had planned to visit this site on the last of my two Jerusalem days last week, but it was Saturday and when I got there I found the checkpoint (the only way in) closed. I roundly cursed myself for assuming as a sacred Muslim, sit access would be open, as Friday is the Muslim holy day, not Saturday. I’d forgotten or not bothered to think properly, that the security guards at the checkpoint are Israeli and so not working as Saturday is their Sabbat.

It was a well worthwhile visit, for the Dome of the Rock is my favourite building exterior. I say exterior because as a non-Muslim I can’t go inside, though when East Jerusalem becomes the capital of the State of Palestine (I’m wearing my optimist hat as I write this) hopefully I will be able to enter. Until then my favourite building interior is the Haghia Sophia in Istanbul.

The only other point of note today is that I’m chuffed to find that I am automatically starting top use a few more words of Arabic that I learnt two years ago in my classes at Al Quds University, such as ‘Tamaam’ (good) when anyone asks me how I am, and ‘Afwan’ (you’re welcome) when anyone says ‘Shukran’ (thank you) to me.  It’s encouraging when I get a pleased reaction. Am I ‘going native’?

Oh, and yes, I was not happy to see a mob of Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem as I walked to the Jerusalem bus this morning. They certainly make the point that sovereignty is a long way off for Palestine, for Bethlehem is in Area A, supposedly full Palestinian control (except of course for its water, airspace and borders).

And whilst I’m on such a topic it is always distressing when the bus reaches an Israeli checkpoint and the locals have to get out and be frisked, bags checked etc. before they can get back on, while I, with my Aussie passport and Israeli visa can stay on board for a simple visa check. It must be so humiliating – imagine having to endure that on your daily commute.