Showing posts with label Christians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christians. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tzfat (Safed) Artist District

A large "Rabbi carrying a Torah scroll" statue on top of gallery in Zafed (Tzfat) - Israel's artist colony city in the north

Northern Israel is a mix of different cultures. The most prominent is Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures living in close proximity. While the world around Israel seem to be literally burning, norther Israelis are trying to make a peaceful co-existence a daily routine. One outstanding example is the city of Tzfat (Safed). A small city at the very north of the country. Historically it holds a mystical place to Jewish Kabbalah followers. With a million immigrants from the former soviet republics, the city was designated as first an artists colony, then a tourist destination. Both efforts by the Israeli state left their mark. But unfortunately did not turn out as initially expected. Tzfat today has a small artist population and a few small hotels. To the Jewish Orthodox community it serves as a vacation spot in the north. Some tourism, both Jewish and Christian, make this one of their sites. We visited the city on a rainy Sunday morning. The city was almost deserted with very few tourists. A few art galleries were open and welcoming. A few restaurants were close to business, not expecting any diners. But the old city, with a series of old Jewish Synagogues and small art studios in renovated century old homes was wonderful. The attraction to Christian tourists is close proximity to many original Christian sites in the Galilee, most prominent the Sea of Galilee.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christian Pilgrims: Israel's "secret" tourists

Detail of Tiberius church painting
When the rockets fall and the buses blow up with tourists (S. Korean tourists, Sinai, February 2014, Al-Jazeera), there are still people who come to Israel. Called by a higher voice, believing in a purpose, something as fundamental as the terrorists believe in freedom or nationality. Christian pilgrims still come to Israel regardless of state security warnings and daily media buzz. From their perspective, especially the inside sources of the church and tourism, Israel is no more dangerous than any other place. Are church voices mistaken in their assessment of the dangers? Why would priests put their followers at harm's way? Do Christians still possess that fundamental spirit, which called for each believer to be a "soldier" and a believer? Or is there something beyond the media hype and political sniping (from the media, states, international organizations, political and military personalities)? Actually, with a little bi of reading, you notice a difference in opinion and belief in Christians' view of Israel and the conflict. Many Christians, both lay independents and organized groups (mostly independent churches), believe in total support of Israel. Some support Israel due to the Jewish state religion. Some due to the liberal and overall support of the state of Christians living in Israel. Beyond this, there is a different view of political and military issues in religious organizations and religious leaders. Unlike secular views, there is a long term perspective and a sense of belief in slow change. There is also belief in the right resolution long term. Whatever was meant to have happened will happen. More on the impact of religious tourism on Israel, not simply economically, in future blog posts.      

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ajami (Movie) Dark Life in Jaffa

Ajami the movie is playing in Israeli theaters. [imdb] [] [FaceBook page] It is a collection of stories from the Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa. Jaffa being part of Tel Aviv officially (managed by the city) is an Arab city with a life all it's own just minutes away from central Tel Aviv. The stories depict a few young men and how their lives intertwines with each other and the outside world. The characters sneak into Israel from the Palestinian territories, get involved in drugs, find disapproval of parents in a Muslim and Christian love affair and overall struggle for a better life. While the plot was dark, and the acting iffy, the look into a life of Arab Israeli life was fascinating.

The movie is getting mixed reviews in Israel. The topic and presentation of an Arab language movie in the mainstream Israeli society is as oddity by itself. Arab and Jewish life, even here in Tel Aviv is separate in most respects. The interaction of the young heroes is just with Israeli police and a mention of a worker from the Palestinian territories losing a job with no place to stay at night (he worked for an Israeli boss.) For most Israelis the topic is hard to digest. We seem to be tired of stories about how difficult life is for Muslims in Israel. Ajami focused just on the dark side of life, which may have been intentional. Nobodies can deny the difficulty in a life we rarely see, while fictional, it probably does represent the life for some young Arabs in Jaffa. The scenes of an unofficial Arab court and the conversations among the young men looking for help from the big family head, Italian mafia style and even the get together of friends criticizing one for leaving Jaffa to live with a Jewish girlfriend, are a peek at a life seldom seen. There is pride mixed with the fear. There is love and passion hidden from family and the public. There is friendship and acceptance of life, yet fighting for respect and the right to stand up for justice.