After two months at Grofit, Leah and I cashed in our shekel-sheets and accumulated leave and left Aravah Valley. "Don't catch Arrab buses," smirked Moshe. "Don't heetch-hike blue nomberr-plated West Bank and Gaza veheecles." We Egged bussed to Beersheva market -place, and saw Bedouin haggling over camels and sour dates. A black-dressed Jewess handed a fowl to a rabbi, who stroked the fowl's neck and slit its throat with a knife. He up-ended the fowl into a metal funnel, draining blood. A chuckling Jewish man then ground away kosher-fowl's feathers on a grinding wheel.
At Ancient Sodom, Dead Sea shore campsite, we saw salt pillars in the water...
At Masada, climbing the Snake Path to the plateau, we watched a camel-train in the desert below. Other tourists rode the cable-car. We wandered ruins, and saw huge water-cisterns and Herod's palace. When besieging Romans had finished their rocky ramp, hundreds of trapped Zealots committed suicide, escaping torture. We snaked down, seeing busloads of Sabra kids on a "Masada shall not fall again" brainwashing tour.
At Ein Gedi, we floated high in the Dead Sea, while brine stung our eyes. Leah showered in a men's change-room, locking herself in, when a busload of doddery Germans changed, leaving their wallets in their trousers.
In Jerusalem, we trudged through Damascus Gate into the walled city of David, Mohammed and Christ. There were no Hosannas. In the souk, an Arab youth, sitting on a three-legged stool before Fat Fathers shop, said to Leah, "Fuckie, fuckie, fuckie, fuckie..."
I berated him, pointing to Leah's and my wedding rings: "These rings show we're married. Be careful how you speak to my wife!"
Whipping his stool from beneath his bum, the youth brandished it above his head. Fat Father squirmed between us shouting, "No fighting! No trouble!" Leah and I ambled through the souk, giggling at how silly it was. We bought leather sandals for our Holy Land trek, then looked at Jews praying at the Wailing Wall.
Moshe had forewarned us about our skinny Arab hotelier being into couples, so the Arab's smarming didn't disturb us. His cheap hotel on David Street had Ottoman vaulted ceilings and dormitory-rooms. When we brewed tea in the dining-room, a Yank shouted above breakfast-babble, "Hey Boers! Whadaboud Sharpeville?"
"What about Sharpeville?" I asked.
"When ya son-of-a-bidch regime shod blacks."
"How many blacks were shot in 1960?"
"You know nothing about SA. You're not the first Yank to bollock me about apartheid. You Yanks fought a Civil War over slavery. Yanks discriminated against Negroes and Red Indians. Yanks' civil-rights are a joke. Yanks' affirmative-action doesn't work. Yanks shot Doctor Martin Luther King. And shot President Kennedy and his brother. Yanks bombed Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to hell. And who's funding the forthcoming Israeli invasion of Lebanon?"
"In Angola, you Yanks proxy-warred SA troopies and UNITA against commie MPLA, Cubans and Soviets. Will USA sort out apartheid's mess? Who'll pay for SA fresh water, electricity, sanitation, roads, housing, schools, hospitals and shops?"
Yad Vashem museum showed extermination of Jews by Nazi -Europeans. But Israelis were hypocrites, due to their forced expulsions of Palestinians, and occupation of Palestinian land, and non-right-of-return for Palestinians. Whereas any Jew anywhere had automatic right-of-return to Israel anytime. Due to Israeli oppression of Palestinians, Arabs we met were passively-aggressive.
In outcast Palestinian Bethlehem, Leah and I found the Grotto in the Church of the Nativity. We knelt, touching the marble slab, covering Christ's "birthplace." We sat, while candles spluttered warmth. We felt a powerful presence, tear-welling eternity, until noisy Yanks arrived, disturbing our peace.
Northwards, Tel Megiddo had been excavated by archaeologists. We clambered down a rock-shaft, and walked along a water-tunnel, which had watered old Megiddo.
Palestinian Nazareth was an outcast Arab town with a flashy Christian church...
At Haifa, we climbed Mount Carmel, and viewed the Bahai shrine. We talked of post WW2 displaced Jews evading a British blockade in small ships...
In wide-walled, Crusader-city Akko, we lingered along medieval alleys, imagining King Richard the Lion Heart slaying Moslems, and housewives throwing slops from windows into alley middle-gutters.
We bussed to the Lebanese border "Friendly Fence," and chatted to friendly Yanks admiring the distant Mediterranean...
An the way to Safed, at a bus terminus, amongst lonely hills, a crazy Arab shepherd begged from us. "Go away!" I said. He hit me with his stick. I threatened him...
"You go to Rama?" shouted a crazier Israeli pickup-driver, "I go to Rama." We sped down a pass, pickup wheels screeching at corners, dirt-road so narrow, his pickup swiped a mirror off an upcoming car...
We sped in and out of Safed artist tourist-trap...
We sped north to Qiryat Shemona, where PLO rockets, fired from Lebanon, had pock-marked buildings...
We slowed down at Dan kibbutz, in the Golan, and saw a wrecked Syrian tank, left in a garden, commemorating an Israeli - killed: stopping the tank's advance.
See Masada and other Israel sights.