Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I'm a Jew, Muslim, and Christian

T-Shirts in the Old City
Religion is a beautiful thing. Though sometimes I question if religion's beauty, because of the amount of wars and violence that is a direct result from differing opinions of religious groups.

I had no idea what the Temple Mount was until today. As I walked through security I thought it would be similar to the Western Wall security, throw your bag through the security x-ray machine. As I walked into a small room three Israeli Policman searched my bag and put it through the x-ray machine. As I walked ahead many of the adults seemed uneasy, I thought nothing of it. As we walked on a bridge Ryan, a documentarian, pointed, "Hey, do you see all the riot shields." As our tour leader, Orion, asked us to huddle around him he explained the religious importance of this site and that tensions are high because Ramadan recently started. We were asked to be extremely quiet and not to talk to the Jordani soldiers who would not be nice to us.

As we stepped off the bridge into the opening of the Temple Mount, we were hastily approached by a man telling all of us to buy shals to cover our bodies. As Young Judea participates of both genders tied shalls around their legs and arms, there was much anger towards the site because we had to pay 25 shekels for see-through shals. Despite the complaining I was ready to have the opportunity to see the Mosques up close. As we walked toward the Al-Aqsa Mosque we were told not go further than a couple feet. As we walked to a shaded area I looked over my shoulder and saw a Lutheran group walk very close to the Mosque in shorts. I was upset. I have been studying the Islamic religion and believe in the peaceful teachings, that are unfortunately twisted by extremists into violence and hate. I could not learn because I am different than them. After going to the Coexist seminar and collaborating with Arab Israelis I saw a speck of hope that there will one day be peace. My hope was shattered the moment the Muslim guards asked all of us to leave after less than 20 minutes of standing underneath a tree. As I walked out I started crying I want to learn, I love the Muslim tradition and faith. I want peace and love within the city of Jerusalem.

As I walked out I wanted to run back and yell, "I am a good person, I want to learn!" Many of the Young Judea Participants felt extremely uncomfortable and wanted to leave. Orion reassured the participates that everything is okay and we are okay, but then an argument erupted. As we were trying to leave I looked up and there was an Israeli flag in a Muslim occupied site, one day I want the star and moon, and the Star of David to be a symbol of peace.

---Dana Brown

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