martedì 17 settembre 2013

Postcards from the Middle East

               Damasco, Syria 2009

No need to go to the end of the earth to touch the sky: Jerusalem is here.
Here, with its walls and its gates, its suqs and narrow streets, its churches and its mosques, the sound of Christian bells which blend with that of Jewish songs, mingling with the smell of spices coming from shops near the Damascus Gate. The Wailing Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque, the Holy Sepulchre and the Basilica of Saint George, turtle meat and pomegranate juice, toy guns and goldfinches, children soldiers, and nostalgia for God. What's missing in the mosaic of this city? Jerusalem takes your soul, it charms you before capturing your heart and then reduces it to shreds, leaving it prey to countless thoughts and unanswered questions.
You can feel the pain, the despair, the anger for a God who is not there, yet invoked by thousands of voices that rise up from every side of town. He is hidden and ignored, the God of consolations, submerged in the sea of tension that fills these walls.

Journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem: just a dozen kilometres that shake you inside.
You feel it, the wall, blankly risen up to heaven, perceiving the sea of differences and misunderstandings that separates these two peoples. Friday evening: a crowd invades the indescribable narrow streets of the old city. The fasting time is almost finished: the shops that sell honey cakes are full of Arabs who wait with joy for the sunset on this twentieth day of Ramadan. On the other part of the town crowds of Jews converge toward the Western Wall for the evening prayer: everything is ready for Shabbat. Israeli and Palestinian children are playing in the streets with their bright toy guns: judgement has gone long time ago. Hopefully, we will find a way, a clue, in this intricate mosaic ... Sooner or later.

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