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the christmas journey

  • A Christmas journey part 12: Own personal Jesus

    Jaffa - Yad Hashmona - Jerusalem, one last cup of eggnog Click here to read the Christmas Journey in its entirety There's this place, a very nice place, on the promenade that runs along the Tel Aviv- Jaffa shoreline. If you look to the north, there's Tel Aviv. Then, if you look to the south, there's Jaffa. It would take millions and millions of posts like this one in order to explain what Tel Aviv is, what Jaffa is, and what it means to live in a country where different worlds coexist, squeezed together like passengers on a downtown morning…

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  • A Christmas journey part 11: Granpa Frost & Snowflake

    << The Christmas Journey Home Petah Tikva - Ben Gurion airport - Ashdod - Givatayim, Merry Rashdistvo! I was hungry, walking at dusk into the city of Petah Tikvah from the Baptist Village. I took a peek into a a small Russian tavern. The looks of it didn't really work my appetite, but something in there did catch my eye. The convenience store next door had a proper display of Christmas candy. The bigger grocery store around the corner was all about Christmas, from chocolate Santas to green and silver stretched along the counter. Then, at the very heart of…

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  • A Christmas journey part 10: Two Jews

    << The Christmas Journey Home Jaffa - Kfar Habaptistim - Petah Tikva, conversing with the converted. As a new day dawned, I decided to go out looking for Protestants. If there's anything the Holy Land hasn't much of, it's Protestants. They're here, to be sure, but in small numbers. Palestinian Protestants are rare, and while store-front churches that cater to African immigrants abound in South Tel Aviv, more mainstream churches tend to be modest to the point of invisibility. My one clue was the steeple sticking out of Jaffa's "American Colony." It is a neighborhood with a story behind it:…

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  • A Christmas journey part 9: O little town

    << The Christmas Journey Home Jerusalem - Bethlehem - Hebron, the very heart The time has come to follow the star to Bethlehem. I'm planning to be there for the grand finale, of course, but knowing just how uber-overcrowded the city becomes on Christmas Eve, I figured a pre-holiday visit would offer more insight. Besides, there was a guest to show around. Matt, a Glaswegian, arrived here with his friend John two days ago. Since John has a recorded history of activism in the West Bank, he was instantly deported by the Israeli authorities: dragged handcuffed and ankle-cuffed to the…

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  • A Christmas journey part 8: Where the lovelight gleams

    << The Christmas Journey Home Harashim - Tel-Aviv central bus station - Hatikva, Home for Christmas At sundown on Friday I arrived at my favorite place in the entire country: The tiny community of Harashim. It was founded in the 70s as part of Ariel Sharon's plan to Judaize the Galilee. Scores of small towns known as "lookouts" ("Mitzpim") were established on mountaintops. Since Palestinian communities developed around springs in lower altitudes, the lookouts overlook them as Kafka's castle overlooks the town below it, and could easily be used for military purposes if neccesary. The people who came to live…

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  • A Christmas journey part 7: The children of God

    << The Christmas Journey Home Nazareth - Tiberius - Capernahum - Safed, Of war and peace "Peace on Earth.” - When living in the States I would see this statemet/wish/declaration of intent printed on Christmas cards and spelled out in Christmas lights. It seems to be a slogan of the holiday, and to be honest – one of the best reasons to love it. If Christmas is to be a time of peace, Nazareth certainly showed some holiday spirit on Thursday night. The city's Christmas market, launched two years ago, was festively opened with greetings in Arabic, Hebrew and English.…

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  • A Christmas journey part 6: Santa is bankrupt

    << The Christmas Journey Home Important update: I turns out that this post is partially the fruit of a technical error. In the days preceding its publication I was told in confidence by my colleagues at +972 that no money at all was donated to the project. We contemplated what to do, and I decided to sing about it with hopes for the best. Today we learned that we were misinformed due to a communication problem with Paypal. We also learned, as a consequence of publishing this post, just how generous some of you have been. I am deeply grateful…

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  • A Christmas journey part 5: Suspending disbelief

    << The Christmas Journey Home Nazareth Illit - Nazareth Proper - Cana in the Galilee, Christian for one day. Shimon Gapso is mayor of Nazareth Illit, a city of 40,000 situated on a hilltop overlooking Nazareth proper. Nazareth Illit was designed to be a Jewish-only "answer" to the Galilee's main Arab-speaking hub, but over the decades became increasingly mixed. Last year, Nazareth Illit's Christian community asked to have a municipal Christmas tree erected on one of the city's many roundabouts. Mr. Gapso objected. Before leaving for the north on this trip, I phoned Nazareth Illit's municipality to see whether anything…

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  • A Christmas journey part 4: The stranger

    << The Christmas Journey Home Tel-Aviv - Haifa - Afula, twixt two bearded men. I brought Ruthie a couple of small treats from Ramallah. One of them is a chocolate Santa, which looks entirely out of place in Tel Aviv's surroundings. As I headed out this morning, I kept thinking of how foreign this holiday is to us Jewish Israelis, and yet how much more familiar it has become in recent decades. Christmas is a stranger in our culture, but one who appears at our door newly each year. Have we come to accept him? Should we come to accept…

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  • A Christmas journey part 3: 'Tis the season

    << The Christmas Journey Home Ramallah - Wadi Qelt - Beir Zeit - Ramallah: popping into summer. My Australian readers will have to forgive me on this one, but Christmas is about winter. The first condition to knowing holiday spirit is a Jack Frost-bitten nose. This is why I was so glad to arrive last night from Taybeh into a freezing Ramallah. At 800 meters above sea level, this is one Middle Eastern city that can claim to have a decent winter. It even snows here once or twice a year. There's more to winter than simple chill. A charming…

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  • A Christmas journey part 2: Comfort and joy

    << The Christmas Journey Home Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Taybeh: A tale of two beers My Christmas journey begins with a death threat. On Sunday I published a piece in popular Israeli news site "Mako," concerning the murder of demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi in Nabi Saleh. Tamimi was shot at point blank from within an armored IDF car with a tear gas canister. Readers did not take to my expression of remorse over the event, and attacked me in scores of comments sent to the site. In one of them I was offered a bullet to my skull. What's to do in…

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  • A Christmas journey part 1: Harnessing the reindeer

    << The Christmas Journey Home I grew up in a land without Christmas, or at least that's what I thought. My childhood home stood on French Hill, a Jewish settlement built in East Jerusalem in the early '70s. Today I know that many of the city's diplomats live on that very same hill, and that many of them celebrate Christmas. Today I know that nearby East Jerusalem is home to many Christian Palestinian families, and that many of the "Arabs' houses" are visited by a decorated pine tree early in winter. Today I know that the city of Bethlehem is…

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