When Israel is mentioned, what is your mental image? Is it a country in conflict with its neighbours, a refuge for a persecuted group, a proud historic nation, or do you think of the countryside, the towns and the sites of antiquity?
Adrienne Thunder, in her thought-provoking photographic tour of Israel, covered all these topics in her talk at Coquetdale U3A.
Adrienne is an accomplished photographer and member of the U3A Photography Group. Her son is married to an Israeli and lives in the country. As a consequence Adrienne and her husband visit regularly.
The tour started with some of the main religious sites of The Holy Land – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – followed by a pictorial journey around Jerusalem with its narrow streets. There was a photograph of a meeting with three Israeli Arabs who politely, but clearly expressed their views of the Israeli Government.
She showed a Canaanite settlement dating from 1800 BC, sites of burials, Ossuaries and human sacrifice. On the Mount of Olives is the most important Jewish cemetery as it is from here that God will start to redeem the dead on the Day of Judgement.
A trip to Bethlehem in the West Bank required crossing check-points and passing the separation wall, a protection from sniper fire. The town is undistinguished and unrest prevented a visit to the Church of the Nativity.
Other check-points were passed through to Herod’s great hill top fortress at Herodion. We were also shown a West Bank settlement. We saw Qumran near the Dead Sea, where the scrolls were discovered in 1947, and had views of mud and people floating.
Then it was on to the Negev desert, with photos of wadis and wildlife. We were shown a Bedouin village and a tent used for B&B. Pictures of a kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip followed, with a survivor from the Holocaust, a school with a missile-proof roof and community bomb shelter.
Then it was north to the Golan Heights, along the river Jordan to Beth Shean, a site inhabited for 5,000 years, then to the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth, and a meal with an Arab mayor and his family. A trip down the coast to Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and a celebration of Passover, concluded a fascinating, informative pictorial tour of Israel.
This talk was part of Coquetdale U3A’s open meeting programme. The next meeting is on Monday when Chris Mullin will talk about his new book Hinterland; My Memoirs. All open meetings are in the Jubilee Hall, Rothbury, at 10.30am, with tea/coffee and biscuits. Non-members are most welcome. A small donation is appreciated.