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Showing posts from June, 2012

Israel/Palestine: Day 11

Tuesday, May 29th

By now you're probably thinking, "This series of posts is never going to end."  Well, at about this point in our trip, I was starting to think something similar; the emotional and physical toll of the trip was nearly overwhelming.  Combine that with being sick, sometimes unsatisfactory food, and not much downtime, and you'll approach what I was feeling by the mid-point of the second week!  This isn't to say that I was unhappy to be there; I was definitely still interested, grateful to be on the trip, and looking forward to our last days; but I was also completely exhausted.  Visiting Jerusalem as a "justice tourist" (a term I'm still struggling with as a concept) is no vacation at all.

And yet, on Day 11 we rose extra early so we could be in line to visit the Temple Mount by 8:00 in the morning.  Non-Muslims are only allowed on the Temple Mount twice a day during restricted visiting hours, partly for security reasons and partly so…

Movie Review: "The Art of the Steal"

Abstract: Decent documentary film, whose value is more in raising questions about the ethics of access to art than in telling the story of the victimized Barnes Foundation.

The Barnes Foundation opened its new museum in Philadelphia this year despite the years of legal battles described in this 2009 documentary, The Art of the Steal.  The movie left me feeling soundly depressed about the state of the fine arts in this country, but also feeling caught in the middle of a bigger argument.  That argument is about the proper place of elitism in art.  But first, to summarize briefly the history of the Barnes Foundation:  Assembled by a wealthy industrialist, the Barnes art collection is considered to be the best collection of impressionist and early modern paintings anywhere, and valued at $25 billion.  This man, Albert Barnes, established an art school based on this collection, and endowed the school (the Barnes Foundation) to remain as an educational institution in perpetuity, w…

Israel/Palestine: Day 10

Monday, May 28th (Memorial Day)

Note: Long post ahead - skip to pictures at the end if you need a break!

Second full day in Jerusalem: a half-and-half day of meetings and sightseeing.  We began the day with a visit at our hotel from Fajr Harb of the Carter Center - yes, former President Carter's Carter Center.  The Center has a small office in Ramallah where the staff monitors elections  and promotes peace through politics.  The official stance of the Center is behind a two-state solution.  Fajr was an excellent speaker, and we all appreciated his candor as he expressed both his personal views on the conflict and the views of the Center.  Educated in the US, Fajr is clearly a bright young man who could be doing great work for his country, and he told us he wants to work in development; but as it stands, the best he can do is to work for the peace that's needed before any development can happen.  He told us that as a resident of Ramallah, in the West Bank, it's easier for h…

Jackson (1997-2012)

My family adopted Jackson as a puppy for my sister's 8th birthday in 1998; I picked him out at the puppy store because he was the cutest one there by far.  After that he was always my sister's dog.  We named him for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a place we had visited recently on a family vacation.  He had the most expressive face because of his little brown eyebrow spots; you could usually tell what he was thinking just by looking at his face.

Jackson was a miniature Australian shepherd, with no tail, a tendency to herd furniture and children by running around them in circles, and a method of lying down that involved crossing his front paws over themselves and splaying out his back legs.  Guests to our house would always remark on how prim and proper he looked with his paws daintily crossed.  He didn't learn how to bark until he was nearly an adult, and would only bark at visitors who came in the front door, having learned that anyone who came in through the back or the garage …

Israel/Palestine: Day 9

Sunday, May 27th - Jerusalem

Our first day in Jerusalem was a Sunday, so we went to the English-language service at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the middle of the old city.  This is the largest Protestant church in the city, with regular services in Arabic, German, and English, and occasional services in Danish.  (Their website here.)  It was Pentecost that Sunday, and so it was fitting that we were able to attend a service in our own language.  (For those unfamiliar with the Pentecost story, at Pentecost the disciples of Jesus spoke in tongues, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem understood them in their own language.)  I think we were all especially thankful to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the birthday of the Church in its birthplace in Jerusalem.  The service was held in the chapel, not the main church - which I never did end up going to see - and was packed full of people.  During the service the minister asked all the different groups present to stand and introduce th…

Israel/Palestine: Day 8

Saturday, May 26th

Saturday was another sight-seeing day, with one meeting thrown in.  We visited more sites in the Galilee region before finishing the day in Jerusalem, where we spent the rest of the nights of the trip.  First off we visited the Church of the Wedding at Cana (Kufr Kanna), also known as the First Miracle Church or the Marriage Church.  As usual, there is a more recent church sitting on top of Byzantine and Crusader churches.  This one was less interesting than usual, though, with a hunk of stone (what's left of a water jar) as its main attraction.  The most interesting part was all the money thrown into the different parts of the church - into the water jar, onto the rocks around the foundations, into a pit of some kind (not sure what it was), etc.  There were also places where people had tucked photos of themselves or their children to bring luck or healing, according to our guide, since this church commemorates a wedding.

Our next stop was at Sindyanna of Galil…