October 13, 2002 Matthew

Palestinian Hospitality

Marhaba sabni (hello friends),
For the last week and a half that I’ve been here in Israel I’ve seen a little bit of the kind of friction there is between the Arabs and Jews. I have not had any problem yet dealing with either of them. I am living in the Palestinian neighborhood, right on top of the Mount of Olives. I have been learning Arabic and practicing it with Arabs while at the same time befriending them. A group of us conversed one night with a group of Arabs nearby our residence sitting in front of their vegetable market. They asked us questions about where we were from and what we were about. We said we were doing biblical studies. When they learned we were from America, he said a few vulgar things about Bush. But they were otherwise friendly and had given us some bread and water(we had walked all the way up the Mount of Olives, and they understood our tiredness). The Arabs are not without Christians, in fact we have one who is a part of our school at the base. Although for a lot of them it seems, it is little more than a religious identity. Due to the problems in Bethlehem (where I was suppose to be living), which has often been locked up and only recently had its curfew lifted, I am living at the base with the students from the other schools. There are about 15 students and a few SBS students.

In class, there are the lectures(the first week was with all the students) and Arabic class twice a week, and then other duties. Outside the class, I have been wandering around checking out many ‘holy’ sites and ruins. The ‘holy’ sites have practically nothing original about them and are very idolatrous looking. The ancient ruins like Hezekiah’s tunnel are quite cool though.

I will try to write again soon more in depth on the going-ons here in Jerusalem. I’m well situated now, and ready to start getting my hands dirty. Ramadan is coming up very soon. From the stories I hear, that should be lots of fun…

Matt

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