Sunday, April 12, 2009

Istanbul -- a gorgeous flow of image and sound

Soak in this sensual invitation to Istanbul. I am thoroughly intrigued with this city and can't wait to be there.
This gorgeous flow of images and sounds was made by Veysel Gencten in Istanbul. This was given to me by Musa Kalaora of our Ahavat Olam Synagogue who was born and raised in Istanbul until his family moved to Canada.

Inside the hammam in Bab az-Zawiyyah, Hebron, May 2001

When I was last in Israel-Palestine, Aug 2000 - June 2001, one day I went to Hebron to see the realities there with my own eyes.
I went to visit the
Christian Peacemaker Team who had been living in Hebron for several years at the invitation of the mayor so that they could serve as witnesses and reduce the level of violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers and authorities.
I took a Palestinian bus from the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and traveled with Palestinians on the back roads through fields and orchards because they are prohibited from the main roads.
What I saw in Hebron eight years ago shocked me despite all the reports I had heard. Well over 100,000 Palestinians locked down in their own city to provide "security" for a tiny handful of several hundred fanatic Jews. Signs of brutal violent repression were everywhere. Homes and stores everywhere were pock-marked from being raked with large-caliber machine gun fire. Horrible anti-Arab graffiti, "Death to the Arabs" in Hebrew, was spray painted on shops and homes. Many shops were burnt out. Israeli military patrolled everywhere and had set up outlooks and gun posts on rooftops all over the city. It had been this way for decades.
One very beautiful place was this, the inside of the hammam or bath house in the neighbourhood called Bab az-Zawiyyah. Even after decades of occupation and repression, it was an oasis of calm and comfort. I learned later that a zawiyyah is a Sufi prayerhouse and I remembered my rebbe, Reb Zalman's experience with the Sufi sheikh in Hebron years ago. Was this the place?
I have no idea if hammam is still opan and functioning. There's been so much further destruction of Palestinian life in Hebron since I was there eight years ago. I'd like to go there again on this trip and see.
The Christian Peacemaker Team is no longer there. I don't know if they were expelled by the Israelis or if they left on their own. They have moved to
At-Tuwani in the south Hebron hills, between Hebron and Beersheva, a place where Palestinian farmers and villages have been under intense assault from fanatic Israeli settlers in recent years. I hope to visit there on this trip and will let you know if I do.