First Impression of Jerusalem: Surprisingly, A Modern, Happy City

My first impression of Jerusalem as I entered the city on the new rail system was how modern it is, how happy the people look to be living there, and how so many people of such wide diversity seem to get along so well. Al Jazeera English:
“Jerusalem’s light rail train runs from the Israeli West part of the city, through Palestinian neighborhoods in the occupied east all the way to Pisgat Zeev — considered by international law a settlement and therefore illegal but currently home to more than 40,000 Jewish Israelis. The train connects Israelis on both sides of the 1967 Green Line boundary. As more Jews began settling in Palestinian parts of the city in recent years — and more Palestinians have used the train to work and shop on the Israeli side — unification was hailed by Israeli officials as a fait accompli, and the light rail was its much celebrated symbol.”


This story in the NYT reminds me of my own visit to Jerusalem. We stayed in a nunnery in East Jerusalem near Damascus Gate. Unlike the author of this piece, my first impression was the LACK OF TENSION, perhaps because I was expecting tension and danger everywhere. A gentle Muslim fellow, a former school teacher, gave us a tour of the Christian holy sites. When an ATM malfunctioned and we didn’t have enough shekels to pay him for the tour, he trusted and told us to meet him 8 hours later to pay him. That to me was a sign of grace or graciousness between Muslims, Jews, and Christians that happens on a daily basis, but rarely gets the attention it deserves because “the story” is always about the outliers, the conflict.

For residents of Jerusalem, over which the world has been battling for thousands of years, everyday frictions can be draining on both sides of the Green Line.
I originally posted this to Facebook. Several friends, trained observers — journalists and educators — as well as a dear Palestinian friend, added their insightful observations. Click.

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