Ethan, Lynda and I left Israel right after the war with Lebanon ended in the fall of 2006 and none of us has returned. Ethan (who was in the IDF) will be posting his thoughts and insights about the video as well. Israel is a terrifyingly beautiful place, and there is much sorrow there. And other than a spanking New Jerusalem falling right out of the sky I do not see how God’s peace will ever reign there (and while some are expecting just that, others are sneering at the golden Dome of the Rock and plotting with high explosives!). Of course, now that Glenn Beck is bringing his wisdom to the holy land maybe there is hope? Here’s a link to Beck’s rally in Jerusalem: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/cutline/glenn-beck-boasts-courage-israel-rally-ahead-upcoming-212057148.html (Dear Brother Beck, sell crazy somewhere else, they’re all full-up). I might also add that the movie doesn’t address the settler militias which are sometimes brutal and have less controls on them than the IDF. Of course, everyone in Israel, Palestinian and Jew, has a story to tell and can articulate with rationality and great passion their own position; why their suffering is the most important, why they feel persecuted and afraid, why their rights are being infringed upon, and why they are entitled by (G-d/Allah, tenure, U.N. res. 242, common sense, holy writ, Islamic and/or Jewish prophecies, their own great historical suffering, a superior culture, historical imperative, the bones of their grandparents, etc.) to this or that patch of land. Then if you throw a pathological American Christianity into the mix, you have one politico-theologo cluster fu%#k on your hands my friends! I have no answers, of course. Perhaps we should have thrown our lot in with Barabbas and the Sicarius and their strategy of surgically whacking Romans? I reckon even Jesus may have had some second thought about that whole ‘cheek turning, love your enemies’ campaign while dragging that cross up the Via Dolorosa (for sure his followers never took it too seriously). BTW, you can rent ‘life-size’ crosses in the old city if you are a crucifixion re-enactor, and now they have little wheels on the bottom! They are not all that expensive and some folks even time share them, each one carrying it as far as one of the 14 stations of the cross, makes sense if you think about it. They have these little trucks that then haul the crosses back down to the starting place at the Lion’s or Saint Stephen’s gate--where Stephen was martyred (he was the first Christian martyr you know!). No one ever wants to carry crosses backwards from Golgotha to the Lion’s gate. Of course ‘Christian tourism’ has been big business in Israel since the time of Constantine’s mother Helena, and shops along the Via Dolorosa pay a premium rent. I used to have lunch and coffee most days at a Palestinian owned cafe close to the Damascus gate right across from station III at the Catholic-Armenian church in the Muslim qtr. (where Jesus stumbles for the first time). Seif the owner would try and teach me Arabic and we would sit and watch the endless parade of monks, nuns, the sweaty, plump, white, mid-western evangelicals, the E. Orthodox with their pompous black hats, and the weepy Latin Catholics as they all trudged up the Via. I never saw any Americans carrying crosses though, but lots of Filipinos, Mexicans, Italians and Eastern Europeans. There is always a squad of armed IDF posted right at that corner too, because a violent and deadly riot started there back in the mid-eighties. It’s also the exact spot where Haredi and other ‘Ultra-Orthodox‘ Jews coming into Jerusalem to shop or pray at the ‘Wailing Wall,’ some with big pistols tucked into their waistbands, merge with all the traffic heading up the Via to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and all the exhausted Christians heading back to their air-conditioned hotels, and weary Palestinians, who do most of the dirty work, starting their long trek ‘home,’ and all those tiny trucks hauling crosses and garbage and what not back out of the old city--no wonder Jesus stumbled there first! It’s such a dangerous confluence of irrational passions, religious ecstasies, repressed sexuality, big money, the smell of piss and the G-d whose name none dare speak, and the little-buddy of my personal god some won’t shut up about, and the war cries of the GI Joe Gaaadha, and the GOD of the loudspeaker yelling down at us from his minarets; well, you can imagine the potential dangers. But on the bright and ecumenical side, the Via Dolorosa (the way of suffering) is the only street in old Jerusalem that has one name shared by all the faiths! (true, having one name is in everybody’s financial interest and smoothes the flow of commerce, but why be cynical, they’re all full-up with that too!) Obliged and G(g)oh-dD bless you brothers and sisters.