Jerusalem! My first destination on this sunny July morning is the Mount of Olives, with a view of the Dome of the Rock and the approximately 3000-year-old Jewish cemetery. I have been sitting here for an hour, enjoying this surreal panorama – and the silence inside me. An indescribably beautiful feeling that I have never felt with such intensity. It sounds almost cheesy when I say: “I feel deeply connected to everything and everyone. I am here and everything is now.” Following this unusual start to my birthday, I make my way towards the Dome of the Rock. On the bus, I witness an ultra-Orthodox man change seats as I try to sit near him.
The energy in the Old City of Jerusalem is heated. Military everywhere. To get across the Mughrabi Bridge to the Temple Mount Plateau, I have to pass the Western Wall and go through two security gates. At the top, I am mobbed by Muslims. I should put something on – even though my shoulders are covered. I sense an explosive atmosphere. As I stand in front of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and move a little closer towards the entrance, a man gestures almost aggressively in my direction to keep me away. Here, too, as a “non-believer”, I am unwelcome.
Back in Tel Aviv, where primarily liberal-believing Israelis live, I feel more among like-minded people. And yet the people here live in a perpetual hotbed of conflict that doesn’t seem to end. Just last week, rockets were fired at Israel again. Sirens could be heard in several towns as far away as the southern edge of Tel Aviv. How do Israelis manage to live such joyful and enjoyable lives despite the constant danger? When I ask a friend who is important to me if he and his family are doing well after the attack, he writes: Yes, the situation is unpleasant but we are used to it and try to enjoy life as much as possible.
This country and these people fascinate me and cast a spell over me. I have no idea what life has in store for me and where it will take me. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says: “We cannot predict what is important in life. The most beautiful joy is always experienced where it is least expected.”
Ani ohevet et Israel.