Getting In and Out Of Trouble In Jerusalem

There was twice where I felt perhaps I was where I shouldn’t be when I was in Israel and that the consequences could be dire, though during the second one the army thought it way more than I did.

The first was the day I went to see the Ethiopia Street. My friend at the restaurant urged me to go, saying it was one of the most beautiful in Jerusalem. So one Friday I thought I could take the bus before Shabbat shut everything down and then I could always walk back if I dallied past 4pm when the buses shut down.

 

He was right, it is at least one of the most beautiful areas in the city, a neighborhood of luxurious Arab houses, dating from the end of the previous century. And the circular Ethiopian Orthodox Church is very old and lovely with intriguing art work. The church compound is gorgeous with colorful flowering trees creating a peaceful interlude in this energized city.

So far so good but the day had just started and I still had plenty of time to offend. In my defense when I saw the huge sign at the end of Ethiopia Street telling women if they are dressed immorally to not enter their neighborhood, I turned away.

The problem is that there is no fences delineating the ultra-ortho hoods. Yes there was a plethora of ringlets and black suits but since I knew I was ‘close’ to an ortho hood I didn’t think much of it. However when a couple of nine year old boy brats hissed and called me names I knew I was in trouble. I hissed back and hurried away, trying to get Google Maps to get me the hell out. There have been reports of violence in these places against women who dared to show their shoulders and knees. ( 😱 Who knew my 65 year old limbs would endanger their souls, eh?) As I was booting it along, avoiding looking at anyone, a young man stopped and told me I should not be there. No shit Sherlock. He was very polite and spoke only out of concern for my safety and I explained I was leaving, that I stumbled in there by mistake. He confirmed google’s directions and I was out of there.

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So let’s contrast this with a few days later when I decided to explore the water tunnels under the Old City.  The woman I met in the bar told me about them, she was so impressed by the expirience. I plugged in “water tunnels” into Google Maps and off I went. At no time did Google mention “City of David” nor “Dangerous Arab Neighborhood”.

I decided to walk and got off the bus at the Station. It was freaking hot, as usual and I shuffled along, distracted by interesting trees and caves. In one place there was a cliff climbing park with a lad climbing and his friend spotting.

Then the inevitable hill and the slough up. It became apparent I was in an Arab neighborhood but since I was staying on the edge of one, I didn’t think anything of it. People were friendly and I stopped and got an ice cream at a corner store and sat outside it to eat it. People chatted with me, interested to know where I was from.

I continued on and I was almost there when the Israel Army stopped me. There were 3, 2 men and a woman, in a SUV and they were polite but concerned… about me. And they didn’t have a clue what to do with me. Some men a block away came out of a restaurant when they saw them and yelled something, I couldn’t understand what was said. The soldiers decided I should come with them and they would take me to safety. I got in with the woman and I told her how ironic it was that here I felt safe but when I was in the ortho-hood I did not. She got quite angry and spit out that she hated ‘those people’ referring to the ringlet Borgs (Orthodox Religious). She explained that this neighbourhood though is dangerous with reports of kidnapping. I said that I would bow to their expertise and not push it.

They dropped me off at the City of David where lo and behold were the water tunnels. They turned out to be a most pleasant experience and worth all the effort it took to find them.

Later, walking up to the Old City, I passed 2 young Jewish boys around 6yrs old being escorted from school by a body guard. A sad but common and necessary occurrence.

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I don’t have any pearls of wisdom or insights to shed on these experiences. I just thought I would share them with you and see what you had to say. I am going to email Google and see if they can highlight those dangerous religious communities for bumbling tourists like me :)…. oh and maybe the Arab ones too, eh?

2 thoughts on “Getting In and Out Of Trouble In Jerusalem

  1. Well both make good stories after the fact, but I bet it was not so much fun at the time, especially since your wandering was really quite innocent in both cases. Don and I do the same and like you have been lucky enough to be warned by a local before anything too terrible happened. Good travelling Donnae.
    Alison

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    • The 2nd one was fine since I really never felt I was in danger but I was not going to take the chance of putting the army personal in danger because I might not know better, you know? The first one was scary for me because I have a temper certainly when I am confronted by misogynists so it could have really escalated. Thanks for commenting, it’s always nice to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

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