I began writing about my trip and was documenting the day to day and what I thought about each location but to be honest it was so boring and miserable. Not just miserable for me but for you the reader. I decided to just to cover a few stories that I think would much rather intrigue you the readers. Because don’t we all just want to form opinions rather than here someone else’s.
I was beyond excited to finally be in Jerusalem! This is it! The place humans have fought and died for five millennium and I was in the heart of it! I was able to sneak away from the tour group on a Shabbat and do a bit of exploring on my own. I was limited on time and was blindly going after as many Muslim and Christian sites I could possibly see. I started off in the Church of The Holy Sepulcher and was shocked to see how many pilgrims were there. I wasn’t shocked however to find out how many people believed the world was going to end; quoting word for word not just from the Book of Revelations and from the Book of Daniel as well. This one pastor from Kentucky would not stop trying to convince me about at this passage in the Book of Daniel explaining how a people from the North will come down and destroy Israel. Apparently when Daniel spoke of the people from the north he meant Russia having a strong military presence in Syria and he forgot that the year would be 5776. Yes, not 2016! The Jews have their own calendar. This is the last place I wanted to show any disrespect especially in the presence of such devout believers. I could have been thrown on a cross and ran down the Via Delarosa for all I knew.
After spending way too much time and realizing I really only had time for one more stop I decided to head to the Dome of the Rock, also known as the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is split up into four quarters and as you guessed the Church was in the Christian quarter. As I was headed toward the Arab quarter, a gentleman came up to me and began dressing my head in a keffiyeh. I knew the gentleman had intentions to sell me this garment but it was a pretty well put together garment. I was able to haggle it away from him for $10 US dollars. I thought, “Dammit Brandon you are heading to one of the holiest sites in Islam and now you have dressed the part. They are going to gladly let you up there with open arms.”
I continued on into the Arab quarter with my keffiyeh and I made it to one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. The IDF soldiers there spoke to me in Arabic so I spoke back in Arabic. Now my Arabic is shit and I’m only good for about 3-5 exchanges. After those 3-5 I told the guard, “We can speak English now I don’t know any more Arabic.” They found it somewhat amusing and then proceeded to ask, “If I was a Muslim?” I replied not today guys I’m on Team Human. Now they were getting annoyed and with an urgent tone that this is an entrance for Muslim’s only and you do not want to enter here and let them catch you. So once again I was diverted back from which I came.
Time was almost out and I had to get back to the hotel of course while rocking my keffiyeh. After I left the Old Jerusalem I was going to be entering all Jewish neighborhoods. It was Shabbat so many families were outside spending the day together. As I got more inside the Jewish neighborhoods the staring began to grow. I remember several individuals and entire families changing sides of the sidewalk on me, and at the time I really didn’t have a clue why. One gentleman even shielded his family behind him and threw up his two fingers in the international sign for peace. I wished him a nice Shabbat Shalom and remarked about how great of a Sabbath it was, but he hurried his family the opposite direction. I still couldn’t put my finger on what about I was scaring the daylights out of the people. I have been told before that I could be too friendly so I just assumed it was that. I didn’t receive any more stairs or scares the rest of the trip and brushed the incidents off like nothing ever happened.
When I visited Jerusalem for the 2nd time I got into a cab with a woman who was showing a buddy and me around Jerusalem. She chuckled at me and asked first, “If I knew what I was wearing?” She explained, “That I don’t care that you are wearing it I just hope that you know what it stood for.” Here it was! I was going to find out what was causing such a ruckus to all of these people. “Brandon there are many different colors to a keffiyeh”, I interrupted her and I told her yes yes I know people in different countries where different designs, now why is mine so different? Well, the one you are sporting is the keffiyeh that is worn by Hamas, the terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. I wouldn’t say it was a feeling of, “oh my god my life could have been in angered this entire time” feeling that came over me but more of a feeling that I am RETARDED!
I have a bit more compassion for my parents now who think I am insane. Not just insane because I am willing to travel to hostile locations but compassion because I know how much they love me and that the nonsense I get into sometimes can worry them. It's really one of those I understand but I don't understand moments. Does this mean I am going to stop, though? Hell NO!