Simon's Diary

Israel 2004

Day 6

I'm now back in Tel Aviv.

This morning I walked a couple of blocks to visit a friend who runs a travel agent. I'd intended to book a tour for tomorrow but after I walked the first few hundred meters I found my back started to hurt, almost to a point where I could barely take another step. Something's wrong with my artificial foot which has resulted in my legs being about an inch different in length. This results in me getting a backache. So when I got to the office I sat down and had to take a few minutes to recover, it was at this point that I reconsidered taking a tour.

Most tours require quite a bit of walking, and one which I thought might be pertinent right now was the Jerusalem one which follows the twelve stations of Christ's walk to his place of execution. Recently the film "The passion of The Christ" has been released and received both great praise and condemnation. The main condemnation has come from the Jewish community which feels that the film perpetuates blame upon the Jewish community for the death of Jesus, which is felt to encourage anti-Semitic feelings, especially amongst Christians.

I recently listened in on a radio broadcast about the film and several points stood out which I think are worth mentioning here. The first one was put forward by a Christian theologian. She argued that if any Christians did feel resentment towards Jews that they should bare in mind that Jesus says "I come unto you to die", which means that it is Jesus who decides to die at this point. If Jesus is the son of God then it makes sense that he knows his destiny and therefore He had control over his time and place of death. The second point was made by an historian who said that one of the film's downfalls was that it painted Pontius Pilate- The Roman Procurator - as a man who is caught up in a dilemma and is almost pushed in to pacifying the Jewish community by allowing their wish for Jesus to be killed. The truth is less clear because Pilate was one of the few Procurator's to be taken away from his post because of his overly harsh dealings with the local population in Judea. The politics at the time were somewhat reminiscent of what is going on now. The ruling body was seen as a colonising force and people such as Jesus were seen as anti-state, verging on terrorists, in the eyes of the Romans. So whilst the head Jewish Rabbis may have been motivated to destroy Jesus so too did the Romans and as far as history is concerned there is no definitive evidence to prove that Jesus' death was either due to the Jews or the Romans. There is even some evidence to suggest that Pilate was not in Judea during this time (In the second century Gospel of Peter, Jesus is condemned not by Pilate but by Herod Antipas). My point is that the film perpetuates the theory that Jesus was put to death by his fellow Jews as a foregone conclusion rather than setting that issue aside as a debatable point ( click on this link if you want a deeper view ). Consequently this has detracted focus away from the main message of the film, which is more about Christ as a figure who was able to suffer for the benefit of others. In Israel the film has been banned, which I find very difficult to accept as good practice. I'm not sure if it's been officially banned by the Government or is just not being distributed. The point is it should be up to individuals to make their own minds up.


A street in Tel Aviv




Noam and I chatted for a while and made plans to meet up. I asked if he wanted to go to a karaoke bar tonight. He asked if I was any good so I sang him a couple of lines from "Are you lonesome tonight", during which he looked quite embarrassed as everyone in the shop thought I was singing it to him. Anyway we arranged to meet up this evening and I made my way back to the hotel.


When I got back to the hotel my father had a visitor called Barny. Barny was a soldier with my father in WW2 when they were very young. Barny had once stepped forward to volunteer for a mission and Boris had pulled him back, telling him not to do it. Every one on the mission drowned when their boat was sunk. So Barny has always felt that Boris had saved his life.

Boris had forged his father's signature in order to get in to the army when he was only 14 years old. After basic training he'd been shipped to the front line in northern Africa and was put in the trenches and battlefields. Six months in to his "career" a friend of his in his platoon had written to his girlfriend about Boris who went and found Boris' father who in turn had him pulled out of the Army. A year later when Boris was sixteen he re-enlisted and was shipped to India where he spent much of his time moving horses and mules. It was at this point he met Barny.

Barny has spent much of his life involved in the world of psychic phenomena and psychic healing. He has also played bit parts in many movies, often playing vicars. When my father and Barny get together it's a bit like having the two old men from the Muppets who sat in the balcony come to visit. I was going to try and do some work but instead lay on my bed for a quick nap and ended up in a dreamy world with occassional interruptions from Barny or Boris offering me a sandwich or the News headlines blasting out at top "I must be deaf" volume from the TV.


Barny - Typecast as a vicar


Barny posing


This evening I went out with Noam and his wife Mikhail. They didn't want to go to a karaoke bar, probably after this afternoon's blast in the office Noam thought it wise to keep me away from a mic, anyway we ended up in a bar come restaurant. When you enter public buildings your bags are searched and metal detectors are passed across your body. The place we went to is a hang out for minor celebs, and apparently there were a few in tonight, not that I'd have known who was who. But for me it was the first restaurant in Israel that I've been to where the food was very good, so I was a happy bunny. As we ate a DJ played music and Mikhail said that it must be hard to be a DJ to a load of people who aren't dancing to your creations, but in Israel's economic climate I found it hard to feel any sympathy for him. However to be obliging I started chewing to the beat, just in case he looked my way.



Me photographed using the night vision mode. Well I like it!


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