Tuesday 1 January 2013

Jerusalem diary


Finally on Monday I made it to the Mount of the Temple after many attempts. This is the most beautiful part of Jerusalem, especially under a bright, blue December sky and the most historic site. 

The great mosque is built on the site of the First and Second Temples and is wonderful to look at from the outside. Entrance is controlled by the Muslim authorities and non-Muslims are admitted to the area until 10 a.m. but not given admittance to the mosque, though the Jew I got chatting to told me he had been allowed to enter it eleven years ago. People trying to enter were questioned by the doorman, presumably asked questions about the Koran.

                                                                                     What is most interesting about the mosque which is one of the oldest in the world is that the quotations from the Koran which are inscribed on the outside do not tally with the Koran we know today which suggests that the Koran underwent some revision before it assumed the form we know - which conflicts with the theory that the book was dictated by the Divinity.

I had long been doubtful about whether Jerusalem is really so important a holy place for Muslims, as i know Jerusalem was a backwater in Ottoman times. It seems, from what I can discover, that the city was indeed always the third holiest place for Muslims and the object of pilgrimages even under Ottoman rule. of course the coming of the Jews to the Holy land in the twentieth century and the creation of the State of Israel has made Muslims far more conscious if Jerusalem's importance than formerly. In any case Jerusalem is in no sense comparable for Muslims with Mecca and Medina.


How to spend New Year's Eve alone in a foreign country? I had intended to go to the Anglican service in Christchurch across the road from my hotel but hunger overcame me and i spent it happily in a bar at the beginning of new Jerusalem where a pretty girl of 21 told me she thought I looked 35. So a good start to 2013. As Byron said (read Don Juan, people, if you have not):

'Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter, 
Sermons and soda -water the day after.' 
New Year's Eve did not seem a big thing to the people drinking in the brasserie where I celebrated and the owner had left at home the Happy New Year song. Only the next day did I realise that Israeli Jews, rightly, regard December 31st as a Christian festival. Russian Jews, in particular, I read in Haáretz, are pressurised not to mark the New Year's Eve which they celebrated in Russia in lieu of Christmas.


gave up alcohol as a New Year's Resolution so I drank coffee this evening with a scholarly clergyman who is pastor of a church in Jerusalem. 

He told me that the reason why Muslims around the world are so exercised about Israel is because in Israel Muslims are subordinated to dhimmis, in the Dar al-Islam.

He also said Islam is a religion which lacks self-confidence. A brilliant insight.


  1. I'm drinking coffee too;pumpkim spice,a monks' brew. It's very good. I am exercised about Israel too,and I am not a Muslim nor Arab-or the other way round. I'm glad you are having a nice trip. Please visit pauleisen.blogspot.com just one place for some insight into the arab-isreali problem{s}.

    1. Paul Reisen seems to doubt the Germans killed millions of Jews.

    2. I shall not publish your last comment. There is no doubt that at least five and a half million or so Jews were killed during the Second World War. Martin Gilbert says 5.7 million (78%) of the 7.3 million Jews in German occupied Europe were killed.

  2. I don't know who Martin Gilbert is but will look him up. I don't mind that you chose not to publish my comment. I appreciate your acknowledging though. All the while I've been visiting your rather delightful hearth here I've thought you a quite kind and courteous person. Take care.