Driving up from Tel Aviv, which is on the coast, to Jerusalem takes about 45” on the motorway. The gradual climb helps us understand why they say in the Bible, “let us go up to Jerusalem”. Nearer to the city it becomes forested, entering the Judean hills, where the rain falls, as opposed to the east side of the city where desert begins, similar to the east bay hills catching more of the rain than the big valley. Being higher in elevation winds can whip, as today, they bring a refreshing relief.
Tel Aviv is the new town, where mostly secular, or non-religious Jews live. Jerusalem has increasingly drawn more conservatively religious Jews. 30 years ago when here, we saw few Hasidim from the east of Europe. Now it is common to see young boys with the tassels and curls of that tradition. The conservative sects are very powerful and the government needs their nod in order to stay in power. The more liberal Jewish religious sects are only bit players.
It is the more extremist conservatives who claim a neighborhood, house by house. Ever since the Zionist undertaking in the late 19th century, funds have been gathered, mostly by wealthy Americans and europeans to buy these properties, both in poorer Arab parts of the old city and the newer, formerly Ottoman areas of town. The Israeli flags testify to their victory over Palestinian presence, seen at these homes today. They can intimidate the neighborhood enough to close it down, forcing other Palestinians to abandon their homes.
Today, the Temple Mount was closed, security was tight, no doubt because of the tension over the now 4 teens who have been murdered. As a result of the streets blocked by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Muslim shops have no business and suffer. This happens so often that they fail to survive and may simply abandon their life here or be dependent upon other family members.