Views from high places

Looking through the airplane window. Descending to Ben-Gurion airport, the Mediterranean becomes a field of bright Jerusalem stone (in line with British taste for uniform architecture). A far cry from the stately brick of Cambridge.

Atop the Mount of Olives. Thousands of flat slabs (piled with smaller stones to outlast the flowers) await Judgment Day. Groups speaking many languages wind their way through holy sites they’ve read about their whole lives. The call to prayer drifting from Temple Mount into the hushed silence of a chapel.

A hundred spiral stair steps to the top of the YMCA tower. On all sides, modern hotel towers are interspersed among squat stone homes. The line between East and West invisible to the unaware eye, clear to the Arab or the Jew who live on either side.

Maneuvering the wire fenced fort at Golan Heights. Careful not to lean too far over the edge, lest we test out the minefield below. In the distance, a dirt road runs between planted field and the crumbling remains of a town, claimed by four different rebel groups. A thin line between chaos and relative stability.

Within the big red bus, climbing a hill in the West Bank. On the left, a concrete wall dividing one territory from the other. A jig sawed landscape with pieces constantly shifting.

A rocky path winding its way through red striped hills. A canyon carved over millennia by ocean waters that now trickle in the stream below. A history stretching back farther than any human who lays claim to the land.