Jerusalem Revealed - in progress

- by Yahav Zohar -
Trying to follow the route that Jesus took into Jerusalem one comes against a 25 foot high concrete wall topped with barbed wire. The Israeli “security barrier” runs along the ridge of the Mount of Olives, separating Jerusalem from its eastern suburbs. It cuts across the ancient Jericho road. Just behind the wall is the biblical Bethany, present day Al- Eizariya, where Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead and where he entered from to Jerusalem.

For our next installation in the Homeland Insecurity film series, we’ve turned more ambitious. Instead of just standing in one place, we filmed a journey, and instead of just one presenter we have two . This time I’m joined by my friend and Green Olive transportation manager Ismail Hedra. Ismail was born and raised on Mount of Olives, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Al-Tur where he still lives. From the windows of his home one can see the concrete snake of the wall climbing up the hill side a few hundred meters away, separating him from friends and relatives in Eizariya.

Together, we chose to follow the circuitous route so many Palestinians now have to take around the wall into Jerusalem, the route that Jesus would have to take if he tried today to go from Bethany to Jerusalem. On the way, we (a Jew and a Muslim) try to bring together the things that Jesus said and did here with the modern realities of the city.

Filming took place on June 25th and 26th, on what now seems like a window between lock downs. With us, filming, was the invaluable Moran Barir, who is currently in quarantine editing together this complicated piece. Together, we drove over many bumpy roads, narrowly missed a shooting, got invited into a garden for coffee and experienced the two sides of the mount of olives and the journey between them.

Starting at the church of the tomb of Lazarus we drove first east, away from Jerusalem toward the desert, through miles of Palestinian suburbs with no police and intermittent water supply and talked about how Palestinians are separated from each other by Israeli policy, how easy it is for them it is to lose Israeli residence and get stuck behind the wall. Then we drove beside an Israeli suburb-settlement with well paved roads, lawns and palm trees. We didn’t need to talk much about the inequality.

Since we still had a way to drive on the old Jericho road I told the famous story about this road, the parable of the Good Samaritan, then we drove through the checkpoint and wondered at how very easy it is to get through Israel’s “security barrier”. Still, the route was circuitous, we had to drive north along the wall, take a U-turn and up narrow poorly paved road to finally get to Ismail’s neighborhood, Al-Tur, a few hundred meters from where we started. From here Jesus rode a donkey the last part of the way toward the temple, now the place of the Aqsa Mosque. Ismail was the only one of us to follow all the way in Jesus’s footsteps. He went in to pray and Moran and I stayed outside  the mosque, overlooking it from the Jewish cemetery of the Mount of Olives and tried to make sense of it all. What would Jesus say about today's Jerusalem with its separation and checkpoints?

Shooting the film was challenging, but the real challenge is in the editing taking place right now. We're quite excited about putting this together and hope to have it ready for you to see soon enough.

- Yahav Zohar is based in Jerusalem, is a Partner of the Green Olive Collective, and Senior Tour Guide at Green Olive Tours. His next film will feature the Jordan Valley. More information > > at this link > >


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