Wednesday, June 27, 2007


First full day in Israel -- adjusting to jet lag; and visiting the zoo. Now monkeys, giraffes and elephants can be seen in most major city zoos and even though the Jerusalem zoo claims some degree of biblical associations (one of its visitor's centres is shaped as Noah's Ark) it is plain and simple, a zoo.
Why go there? Three years ago, when Eric was six, we visited on a 'guys day out' (Vivian took time for more intellectual sites) and we formed certain bonds, especially observing the monkeys and chimps. This has been the stuff of school projects and family time since then; so, deciding to keep our agenda light as we adjusted our Jet lag, Vivian joined us, as well.
One jarring clue that things are not totally normal here, however, is the apparent police post you can see looking down from a Zoo vantage point. I believe the post controls access to an Arab village up a hill opposite the zoo.
That is the reality of Israel -- this is a totally westernized democracy (democratic it is, a big ad questioning the rightfulness of checkpoints and settlements appears on the inside front page of one of the newspapers here), but not everyone buys into the story. Hamas, especially, controls Gaza -- a poverty-stricken horror story -- and Hamas' view of democracy is that it is decadent (and Israel should be wiped off the map). But I'm sure the average Arab villager, facing the checkpoint every day on the way his home, is probably rooting for Hamas, even though I think it is realistic to assume his true quality of life would ultimately be poorer under Islamic rule.
You can easily escape these issues, and anything to do with controversy and news, by minding your touristy business in Jerusalem, and in fact, that is what most people do.
Tomorrow, we'll move from our inexpensive hostel to a full service hotel. I won't need to borrow another hotel's weak wireless connection, so may be able to post more photos, etc, and give the entry more time and care.

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