Still in Nablus, which was in lockdown this morning because the IOF were searching for someone. In fact I was advised not to leave my hotel last night. Thankfully I am staying until tomorrow anyway.
We had decided to visit Mount Gerizim anyway that morning, which is one of the two mountains on either side of the main city of Nablus. One side, the Samaritan side, is meant to be blessed and the other side, unfortunately the side my friend lives on, is cursed, or so it says in the Torah! Yesterday had been sunny and 25 degrees, but this day was freezing cold and wet with no views from the mountain at all. The remains of the old Samaritan city were still wonderful, but not very enjoyable to view. However we had a wonderful long conversation with a Samaritan priest at the museum which was fascinating from both a Christian and Jewish perspective. They believe themselves to be the only authentic Jews who kept the faith and remained where they were when the others left. They still sacrifice and worship on their mountain. In the New testament, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well and says to her:
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4.
There is also the story of the Good Samaritan, which I am sure most people know. However, to this day, Samaritans still feel superior to other Jews and Jews have some prejudices against Samaritans although they are treated well by the State of Israel.
On our way back into Nablus we visited Jacob’s Well, where Jesus met the Samaritan Woman. There is now a really beautiful church on the site, which is definitely worth a visit.
I was chatting to Manar about the problems for Palestinians trying to go about their daily lives never knowing how long any journey will take because of Israeli roadblocks. She told me that the Palestinians are far too adaptable and make things worse for themselves, by finding another alternative route or changing their working style or managing somehow. It is the same with international aid. Every time a Palestinian quietly finds another route or an international aid agency provides shelter and food for a family whose home has been demolished, they make it easier for Israel.
Manar suggested, though she acknowledges it would cause hardship to do it, that the Palestinians should go to the checkpoint as usual and that once 500 cars were queuing, then sooner or later Israeli soldiers would have to take some action and it would not just be a simple matter for them of creating inconvenience for the Palestinians.
In the same way, if a home was demolished and no one stepped in, it would be terrible for the displaced family, but it would not be in Israel’s interests for members of the family to die for lack of shelter or water and it might make Israel take a little responsibility for its actions.
I have heard such arguments before and they have merit. The problem is the terrible sacrifice needed for those who take a stand.
When I left Nablus, the shared taxi could not go by the usual route as it was closed. It tried another and that was also closed. The third route worked thankfully, but it was a good illustration of what Manar had told me.