out of control

A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Israel on a tour with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus (RSNOC) for a couple of weeks over Christmas. We did some singing – a couple of concerts in Jerusalem and a BBC Christmas morning broadcast from the University of Bethlehem – and got to tour around also, taking in Tel Aviv, Nazareth, the Dead Sea and a few other places.

So I’m finding it heartbreaking to be reading and hearing about Bethlehem’s Manger Square and the Church of the Holy Nativity becoming a war zone as everything’s getting so out of hand in Israel and Palestine. While I was there things were picking up, with hotels being built in Bethlehem and people starting to live alongside each other. One thing I’ll always remember was on Christmas day visiting the Church of the Holy Nativity (not totally pleasant due to the crush of all the tourists, but I guess at least there were tourists) and leaving the church to the sound of the Call to Prayer from the mosque across the square – quite magical to have so many cultures right next to each other.

And while I’m no politician or philosopher, it strikes me that people are basically after the same things – safety, dignity, security and freedom – and this is never going to happen through violent means. I have no idea if it’s possible, but one or both of the sides is going to have to stop what they’re doing and encourage dialog. The constant backlash of attacks is only going to make things worse and worse.

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