Monday, June 24, 2013

BlueStar in the West

BlueStar in the West 

As the Old City of Jerusalem fades into the distance and the roads of deserts lead the BlueStar group further and further into the unknown territory of the West Bank. The ominous feeling of awe and shock overwhelm the bus. Driving thought the check points and the winding roads of the West bank leading to the Caliber 3 Academy, a counter terrorism training facility. Here we were taught strategic counter terrorist techniques used by the army to train special brigades and civilian guards. Being able to go thought the same training that Israeli Defense Force soldiers go through was quite an experience.  First learning the proper shooting stance and how to property hold a weapon. Then we combined the two in a strategic game of paintball, used to simulate what it would be like to fight a terrorist in close quarters combat.  

Our next stop in the West Bank was a winery of Psagot. Here we learned about the history of the winery. When we left the winery we traveled through the Jordan valley. This was one of the more fascinating parts of the trip. Seeing the barren land of the desert and the pop of life with the Bedouin tribes just appearing out of nowhere. The change from the desert to the sudden tree filled mountains was breathtaking. Even though we were just traveling to our next stop I was fascinated with the change in landscape and how on one side was Jordan and on the other Israel. The rapid change in landscape and history was astounding. With in twenty minutes of driving up Israel a person can see history change before their eyes.          


Growing The Future

Around the world, people of various nations are born, live, and pass on in the same area of land that they are familiar with.  They have a deep connection with the land, one that is respected, and that respect is passed on from them to their children, and their children’s children.  Growing fruits and vegetables on your land is one aspect of home that I am very familiar with.  I grew up in far Northern California on homegrown fruits and vegetables, and we also raised our own beef and had chickens for eggs.  Since being in the State of Israel, I have observed many of the people here who have a love for their land, a strong attitude to defend it, and a respect for the land by caring for it. 
We attended a lecture at a winery today in the town of Psagot, in the West Bank.  We finished off by sneaking in a bit of wine tasting after the lecture.  By growing grapes with the intention of picking them at the right time, so they will produce the best juice for fermenting into wine, requires due care and attention.  That same care and attention for the land and crops is prevalent throughout Israel.  Ysrael Leiter, the speaker at our lecture, informed us that Israel has a very advanced system of agriculture, so advanced that the speaker just arrived back from a political visit to Paraguay.  The president of Paraguay had asked Leiter during the visit to bring their system of agriculture to Paraguay in order that the people there can better grow their crops to feed their malnourished people.  Throughout our trip, our group has observed agriculture within Israel that other nations of the world should be jealous of.  Israel is striving to be as completely self-dependent as it can in all areas, and doesn’t slack when it comes to agriculture.  I have seen flowers, fruits, and vegetables during our travels for the trip.  I am impressed by the due care and attention of the people who take care of the land in order that they can use it over and over to provide healthy food for their own people.  Several times while walking on the streets and sidewalks of several cities and towns, I stopped and purchased fruit that had been grown locally.  The fruit looked good, and tasted even better.
During my world travels to other nations, I have seen people who have respected and cared for their land, and those who have done the opposite.  I believe the Israel falls in the former category of caring for their land.  The world will notice more and more the success that Israel has achieved in agriculture, and can hopefully gain enough world recognition in order to bring their agricultural success to impoverished nations around the world.  Oh, and the wine from the winery was very good.

The two sides of Jerusalem: The beautiful and the painful

Jerusalem. So much history and culture immersed in one town. I, who have traveled only to India, was awestruck when I first saw The Western Wall. When I first approached the wall I didn’t know what to expect or do. I kind of felt out of place and didn’t know what to do. I looked around for some kind of hint or support to show me what to do. A woman next to me had her hands touching The Wall and crying hysterically, full of emotion. I was really overwhelmed and in a way felt whatever pain and sadness she was experiencing right there. After sticking my letter to god in The Wall I put my head against it, tune everything out and emerged myself into it. That was my first spiritual experience with anything in my life and I felt really overwhelmed at how such a simple thing like The Wall which brought out my emotional side. The Wall was something plain and simple yet so powerful whereas The Holy Sepulchre was majestic and full of activity everywhere I looked. While Jerusalem was full of beauty, The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum had no beauty but just pain.
                I know about the holocaust and have seen pictures but this was my first time at a holocaust museum and it was really overwhelming. So many emotions filled me. The videos where they bulldozed the dead Jews to make room were so shocking because the Jews were already starved to death, their bones were sticking out and it was such a horrifying scene. There was a box of shoes that they found from the concentration camps and I was standing there looking at how these shoes once had owners whether they were men, women, children or the elderly. It was sad to see those shoes because their owners were gone forever. The Wall and the Holocaust Museum meant so much to me because it was my first time experiencing it up front and I felt immersed with The Wall and the museum.