by Brittany Bertsche | Moody Bible Institute
Before going to Israel, I knew that Jerusalem is a hotbed of religious and political unrest. Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and from this reality flows much of the turmoil that the city faces. On top of that, Jerusalem, specifically East Jerusalem, continues to be a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seeing as both group claim the land as their own. The city of Jerusalem knows conflict well.
On January 8th, the day we enjoyed a visit to Masada and a float in the Dead Sea, four Israeli soldiers were murdered in a terrorist attack while they stood on an observation deck overlooking Jerusalem. The terrorist, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem, was shot and killed before he could murder anyone else.
The news shook me to the core. Of course I knew that Israel dealt with terror attacks often, but I honestly did not expect to experience one almost first hand. I still don’t think I’ve processed what happened fully. It is a heavy burden to carry.
And yet, the Jewish people carry a burden much heavier than I.
They carry with them every terror attack, every anti-Semitic remark, every expulsion, every crusade, every libel, every exile. They carry the memories of the six million brothers and sisters they lost to the evil of the Holocaust. They carry these burdens, and they remember.
Our tour guide, Shai, explained to us the Israeli mentality: “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” The weight of the burdens the Jewish people carry have the potential to incapacitate–but they do not allow that to happen. The Jewish people live their lives to the fullest, loving and learning and laughing. They work, they create, they prosper. They survive.
The Jewish people are not bitter. They do not retaliate. They live with in the midst of both Muslims and Christians, and they do it, for the most part, well. I did not expect Jerusalem to be a place of both conflict and cooperation. I did not expect people of the three main religions of the world to live together as well as they seem to do. It is not a perfect situation, far from it. Peace will only be accomplished when the Messiah returns and reigns from his throne in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is unlike any other place in the world. It is chaotic and crazy and confusing. But it is God’s city, and one day, it will be made new, and all of the people of the world will come to worship our Lord there. How I long for that day.