Israel: Day Four

As we continued to visit sites between Haifa and Jerusalem, meeting the local populations along the way, I became even more aware of both the long history of the region and the differences among the people now living in modern-day Israel. After checking out the amazing Bahai Shrine and its symmetrical Persian Gardens, we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation in the Arab-Israeli city of Nazareth. While the church itself is very new (less than 50 years) and large, its atmosphere still conveyed the great importance of the site to the Christian religion. Later we visited Caesarea, an old Roman port city along the Mediterranean, and enjoyed the beautiful beach and the 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Our last visit was to Neve Shalom, a recently-developed village between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which seeks to integrate Jews and Arabs through a binational, bilingual educational and community model. For this region and the world, this idea is unique, but in learning about the experiences of people in the village I still saw the deep division that exists between Jews and Palestinians within Israel. It is a testament to their respective spirits that two disparate peoples can attempt this experiment; I hope to continue to discover this spirit in our future travels.

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