A new website has been born, and what has it brought the world? Well, so far nothing really. It’s just another digital place for someone to rant about things, which he feels is of importance, and acting as if everyone – or even anyone – would have any interest in whatever he has to say.

The round tower of the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv

I’m wondering how to start this. Should I go on a tirade explaining why this is the blog, you need to follow? Should I try to explain how this website stands out from all the others? Or should I make an attempt of convincing you all about the amazing knowledge I have to share? In the world today, sometimes it seems like everybody feel that they are something special, and in their attempt to show how special they are, they follow proven marketing rules (or try to), which in the end will make them all look the same. So I’ll try not to do this here.

I have written an about the blog, where readers can read a little about the website. I haven’t written a lot about myself there, I don’t feel that I should be the focus of this website. Obviously, I’ll share my “work” and my thoughts here, so everything will of course have been filtered through my subjectivity and bias, to some extent or another. The focus is, as explained there, mainly about what’s going on in the “Holy Land” – a subject which deserves its own post, and photography. Do I know what I’m talking about? Probably not more than so many others, all depending on exactly what the subject is. For example, I have a pretty good idea about issues surrounding me and my family, but less so the further away we get from that focus. When we talk about the Palestinians, I’m pretty much left at a place, where I can talk about them, or issues related to them, but not for them. My presentation, and representation, is a subjective one – as it really is with everything, and every person who really wish to understand their lives and experiences, should seek them out and spend time with them. The same goes for the Jews, the Bedouins, and so on. And – what probably is most important here – no one can talk for the whole, we’re all just individuals forming a part of the greater society, as threads in a carpet all are their own, but together form a beautiful work of art – as far as it’s Persian of course.

Jews praying at the Western Wall in the Old City.

But why this website then? What do I want to do with it? Well, show off. Isn’t that what we all wish to do in some sense? When we share knowledge, it’s not only to share the knowledge, but also to find some satisfaction in knowing that we have it. Sure, there can be beautiful and lofty motives, such as wishing to improve and better the world, but there’s always that small ego taking part of it. There’s really nothing wrong with that, at least I don’t feel so. When it’s all and only about the ego, then of course we’re talking about something else, but this small part of us, which searches and urges for recognition, approval, and acknowledgement, it drives us. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of it, even if traditionally we try to turn every action based on our self-interests – even remotely, as part of a greater motivation – into something bad, evil even.

A Muslim girl wandering through the streets in the Old City of Jerusalem.

My ego isn’t the only thing, not even the biggest reason for this website. I do wish to share with the world. Impressions, knowledge, and understanding. For most, when we talk about Israel and Palestine, which is the two countries (let’s forget the semantics for a moment) that take the most space within what traditionally has been considered the “Holy Land”, people around the world – even within these two countries – automatically think “conflict”. And sure, there is a conflict, and it does take a lot of space. But the conflict is not the only thing. There is so much more, and even though that much more is part of what causes the conflict, then it’s often now fully realized or understood by those, who take part of the conflict. Often it’s turned into some abomination, which – when described for the other side – would never be recognized. A case in point: the Dome of the Rock or the Aqsa Mosque. For Muslims part of the third most holy place in Islam, a place strongly connected to the prophet Muhammad, and a beautiful place close to heaven. For the average Palestinian it’s a symbol of Palestine, of the hope and dream of self-realization, a gathering point for all the Palestinians all over the world – a dream that if just they want it, it will become real. However, for the Israeli nationalist it’s an example of the Muslim/Arab overtaking of his ancestral home, invaders and colonizers (yes, I get that some of you might find this ironic for different reasons). If he’s religious on top of the nationalism, he sees it as a stumbling stone, the one thing preventing the Jews from rebuilding the Temple, something to be removed. It’s not a beautiful building of historical importance, it is the one thing preventing the Messiah, the anointed one, to manifest and perfecting the world.

A busy bee

I hold no illusions about me changing any of this. But what I do hope, is that at least some of those outsiders, who primarily look at the place through either Palestinian or Israeli glasses, will be able to also see it through the other glasses, if not getting some glimpses without glasses. Seeing the place for more than as told through nationalist or religious narratives. Can I present the place that way? I don’t know, time will tell, but I will try, even if I fail. Because, if you really love this place, you love it as it is, in its entirety and with all the flaws, rather than a version of it, which you wish to be real, but isn’t, and insisting on this version even in the face of all the realities, which go against it. This is not a place of the Jews. Nor a place of the Palestinians. It isn’t a Christian holy place, nor is it the Jewish promised land. Or rather, it is that, all of it, and much more. From Jerusalem in the center, to Haifa in the north or Eilat in the south, there is so much more to this place, than merely thinking of it in the context of a conflict. There are deserts, forests, lakes, hills, flowers, animals, people bumping into each other with no concern about religion or ethnicity, buses and trains trying to keep the schedule, cups of juice being served, and so on. And yes, every now and then these things are colored and flavored by being connected to either Israel or Palestine, to Judaism, Christianity, Islam (or something fourth), but it’s all part of the place, which traditionally has been considered “the Holy Land”. And I’m planning on trying to present as much of all these flavors, colors, nuances, and more, as possible, out of love for the Holy Land.