Laurie and I are staying 10 days after the delegation. Some mysterious force canceled the reservation we previously booked and put us in a great hotel in the Old City of Jerusalem, next to the Tower of David Museum.
The first morning in our new hotel, while we were having breakfast, there was a woman sitting near us who got served a special meal that wasn't part of the buffet. Laurie went over to ask one of the women what she ordered. After a minute of talking to these ladies (Donna-Lee and Jules), they invited us to join them at their table. It turned out that Donna-Lee has a Jewish boyfriend who has only rote Zionist answers to her questions about the ongoing tragedy in Palestine.
We ended up spending all day with them in the Tower of David Museum. Donna-Lee drilled us continually about Palestine. We filled her up with everything we have seen, read, and heard about the formation of the Zionist state of Israel and the consequences for the Palestinian people. Donna-Lee asked for books she could read and I gave her authors, Richard Forer, Ilan Pappe and Rashid Khalidi along with book titles. I feel sorry for her boyfriend when she gets home.
After the museum closed at 4 pm, we spent a few hours in the market, where Donna-Lee bought her boyfriend a tallit (a shawl a Jewish man wears when he goes to temple). Then the 4 of us went to dinner and met the chef when Donna-Lee needed to discuss her diet restrictions.
We asked the chef about his life. He was one of the lucky Palestinians, whose family was permitted to stay in Israel in 1948. That hasn't hampered his ability to see the reality of what is happening. He is angry and his heart suffers for the Palestinian people. I don't know how he cooked for the group of 40 Russians who reserved the restaurant that night because he spent over an hour over the next few hours sharing with us. Donna-Lee drilled him about Palestine, and he confirmed what we had told her as he told us about his life. He went to culinary school in Germany and has worked as a chef all over the middle east. The things he was most proud of was working as part of a crew who served Pope Benedict XVI and even more so was when he cooked for Pope Francis, who stands with the Palestinian people. We suggested to Donna-Lee that she contact Jewish Voice for Peace in San Francisco Bay area, thinking the Jewish part of the name might be more acceptable to her boyfriend.
We have Donna-Lee's contact information and plan to contact her about going on a future delegation trip with IFPB. Her spirit is perfect for this work.
Laurie and I are going to Bethlehem tomorrow. Hotels were full in Bethlehem, but somehow Lubnah Shomali, with Badil, reserved a room for us in the Bethlehem Hotel. We plan on spending time with Lubnah and also Mazin Qumsiyeh (who Richard Forer introduced us to). Mazin is the founder of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem. We plan on spending time at Bethlehem Bible College with Mercy Aiken, whom Richard Forer also introduced us to. While in Bethlehem, we plan on visiting the Banksy Museum.
Beyond that, I don't know what to expect next. Laurie is like a dowsing rod. One minute we don't know what we are doing next, and the next minute she gets up and leads us into our next adventure.