A Day in Jerusalem: What you did not see

When sand fills the air it’s a good time to shut the windows and stay off the Jerusalem streets. It’s not a pretty picture as the dirt blows in and covers everything on any day, especially on Shabbat.

However, earlier in the week, it was a very different story.

Monday morning, the sky was blue, the roses bright red, and the menorah across from the Knesset was surrounded by lush green foliage.

Even though I was in a hurry, I took the time to stop, appreciate the scene and take a quick photograph.

A Knesset security guard came over to question what I was doing. However, I was able to point and say how pretty, and he did not stop me.

The red carpet was out. Not for me, but for the President of the Austrian National Council. I could see the drums and tuba ready for an official musical band welcome, but I was on my way to a meeting inside.

First time back inside the Knesset in over two years, and getting permission to use my camera was an exciting way to start the day. The Knesset Israel Victory Caucus met to discuss the security situation of the past year.

Photo credit: Michael Katz

Thanks to photographer Mike Katz for sharing his photo with me of the new style tee-shirt, which I missed when I stepped out for a few minutes.

Incitement to terror has increased, what to do to stop it is the question?

The official car of Austrian National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka was parked as I was leaving the meeting which went longer than expected.

I say moving to Jerusalem has been an education in international flags.

I passed a tour group at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. The natural roof was not green this time as in a 2019 post.

Next to the Bird Observatory, the cemetery, across from the Israeli Supreme Court building has become a popular attraction with busloads of men and women coming to pray at the grave of the Zvhiller Rebbe.

However, at least one man was able to find a quiet moment to reflect.

I was rushing over to the new Nefesh BeNefesh Campus for the first annual Mental Health Expo, special for English speakers. Attended by 1600 people who took advantage to speak with dozens of participating organizations.

The lecture room was filled for Dr. David Pelcovitz’s talk. I had to push my way into the standing-room-only crowd which spilled into the hallway to take a photo. It was the most crowded room of people I have seen in over two years.

It was a beautiful day to be out and walk in Jerusalem. The new path in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was lined with new colorful flowers.

The new sign was up for the Kraft Family Sports Campus.

And the Ninja section at the park was filled with religious girls in long skirts excitedly trying out the exercise equipment.

Amazing the Jerusalem of contrasts, the new park area, and the old buildings as they were decades ago in disrepair adjacent to each other.

I passed this dumpster and wondered how long those wooden pallets would remain?

With Lag B’Omer approaching, all the wood along Jerusalem streets was being collected for upcoming nighttime bonfires.

The Jerusalem Book Forum and International Writers’ Festival were back again with local and international writers and publishers attending the opening events at the Jerusalem YMCA.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was present to award the Jerusalem Prize as he did in the last festival held in 2019 to Joyce Carol Oates.

This year’s winner British author Julian Barnes was not able to attend but appeared in a video.

It was fascinating to hear a speaker from Germany say how he felt safer now walking the Jerusalem streets than the streets in Europe.

One featured writer was Joshua Cohen, author of “The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family” which won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

All that was on a day the media focused only on conflict.

Wednesday night, Lag B’Omer fires burned well into the night.

The piles of wood were prepared and piled high by thousands who partied all night long in Jerusalem. Musical performances went on in many locations until the early morning hours.

I tried watching online, but wonder if Meron Lag BOmer celebrations will recover any time soon after last year’s tragedy?

While there is a government crisis (almost daily?) and troubles abound, this week I preferred to walk during the day when the sky was clear and the sun shone and admire the flowers along the Jerusalem streets.

The plans for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, reunited for 55 years are well underway. From May 26 to June 2, 2022, Jerusalem is celebrating with 9000 flags and 42 km of flag chains hung along the Jerusalem streets.

Yes, there is much more happening in Jerusalem that does not attract headlines. What next? How about a parade for over 60-year-olds?

In the Jerusalem Cinema City where the Mental Health Fair was held, I saw these two women sitting, one Muslim and one Jewish. Not what you saw on your TV sets at night, but what was happening on the real Jerusalem streets.

It was May 16, 2022. Nakba Day in Jerusalem, Israel – what you did not see.

Israeli Knesset Opening Day Photos: Outside and In

Israeli Knesset Opening Day Photos: Outside and In

In Jerusalem, Israel,

 the 4th session of the 20th Israeli Knesset

opened this week after a long break.

Street closed before Knesset opening session

Early on, nearby streets were closed to traffic

but closings did not prevent protests.

Streets closed and people protesting near Israel Museum

In the road near the Israel Museum,

were visually impaired folks with their guide dogs.

Protesters across from KnessetCloser to the Knesset there were more groups protesting.

Once getting past the protesters,

and while waiting in the security clearance line,

Putting up flags for visit of Georgia President at Knesset

I saw the flags were being changed.

Israeli flags came down, and Georgian ones went up,

which meant a leader of Georgia

(not the US state) is soon on his way to Knesset.

Once inside,

must take a photo when you are at the Israel Knesset

here is the mandatory photo of the Knesset.

But, who else

View of Jerusalem Israel from Knesset building

 takes the Knesset view of where I live?

Arriving early takes off timing pressures,

Visitors to Knesset for opening session fall 2107

so there was plenty of time to oblige these young men with a photo.

Israel Knesset plenary hall

Being one of the first ones in the plenary hall

Israeli cameramen and webcam at Knesset

meant that I could get the seat behind the webcam.

Saving seats for friends at Knesset opening session

WomenWagePeace were there early too,

and saved front row seats in the visitors’ gallery.

Oren Hazan in Knesset

MK Oren Hazan was one of first

members of the Knesset to arrive,

but there were no infamous selfies like with Trump.

Oren Hazan in Knesset

He only wandered over to talk with the opposition.

Arab MKs in Knesset before opening session

I wonder what they were saying?

But promptly at 4:00 pm,

International ambassadors at Knesset opening session

the international ambassadors were seated

Israeli Prime Minister in Knesset at start of opening session

and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived.

President and Speaker of Israeli Knesset at start of sesssion

President Reuven Rivlin and Speaker Yuli Edelstein

took their seats at the dais and

the session was called to order.

At start of Knesset session hall not full

Many seats were still empty.

Nir Barkat greeting Sara Netanyahu at Knesset opening

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was one late arrival.

There were

Female security woman taking selfie at Knesset opening

selfies galore from spectators,

Opening Israeli Knesset

and MKs could also be found with cameras in hand.

Visitors at opening session Israeli Knesset

The diversity of guests seated

Gallery at opening session of Israel Knesset

throughout the galleries was obvious.

As the Speaker and President spoke,

Israel Knesset members

the room was respectfully, boringly quiet.

But as the Prime Minister got into his remarks,

MK Yair Lapid shouting out as Prime Minister speaks

Yair Lapid might have said something,

Not being quiet during speech, MK is escorted out of Knesset by security

but this MK would not stop shouting and was removed.

Israeli Knesset opening session

It was quite a show to behold

as Knesset members exited stage left.

When the Prime Minister returned to his seat

after touting Israel’s successes,

and responding to shouts from the opposition

by calling them “sourpusses,”

Prime Minister Netanyahu goes to sit down after speaking at Knesset

his ministers rose to shake his hand.

Knesset selfie

There were handshakes from coalition,

and more selfies.

Miri Regev taking photos on cell phone in Knesset opening session

MK Miri Regev seemed to be having a great time.

Deri and Leiberman talk during session of Knesset

Though he was one of last to arrive,

MK Aryeh Deri had MK Avigdor Liberman’s ear.

You know the expression,

“Read my lips?”

Well,

Ofir Akunis speaks with Prime Minister

many of those who spoke to the

Prime Minister covered their mouths,

like Mk Ofir Akunis above.

The leader of the opposition MK Yitzhak Herzog

was the final speaker in this part of the program.

The crowds filed out, as more visitors waited to get in.

Knesset near sunset after opening session

The Jerusalem streets were quiet

as the sun was setting,

and traffic returned to the littered, post-protest streets.

What an afternoon.

For more of the experience, here is a one minute video,

 as stills could not capture it all.

Now I am left wondering

how does anything get done in the Knesset?