"To visit the Middle East once in one's lifetime"


Traveling to Israel and Palestine

Visit to the Christianity Holy Sites of Israel and Palestine


On the occasion of Easter (celebrated by Western Christianity on 2016-03-27 and Eastern Christianity on 2016-05-01)




1. Traveling to Israel


1.1 Introduction


"Discover Israel Interactive Movie"  



(On the Israel Ministry of Tourism web site http://www.goisrael.com scroll down to “Media” for “Discover Israel Interactive Movie”)


You have to choose one of the three tour guides. For the Holy and Historic sites of Israel choose Ronni.


Captions and excerpts from the movie follow, with the exception of the following map of Jerusalem which is a caption of the map from the virtual tour of the same site.

(Israel Ministry of Tourism web site http://www.goisrael.com | (scroll down to reach Media\Virtual Tour)






1.2. Arriving at Jerusalem




1.3 A Judaism holy site:  The Western Wall


"We are beginning with a visit to the Western Wall."



"Ronni says this is the site that has expressed the Jews yearning of Jerusalem for centuries.


One of the well-known traditions regarding the Western Wall is the writing of notes with personal requests to God."




[Video options: The Western Wall Tunnels | The OldCity Souk | Via Dolorosa]




1.4 Via Dolorosa ("Way of Sorrows")


"We are going to the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, both of which are sacred places for Christianity.


Walking down the same street that according to Christian belief Jesus passed through on the day he was crucified. The way of sorrow unfolds in the course of fourteen stations."





1.5 Church of the Holy Sepulchre / Church of Resurrection


"During the trek we arrive at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is visited daily by thousands of people across the world who believe that this is the site where Jesus was both buried and resurrected.



While Ronni and I discuss the history of Christianity, Ronni recommends two additional places to visit."



[Video options: Nazareth | Garden Tomb]




1.6 Garden Tomb


"This site is located near the walls of the OldCity. Many protestants believe that this is the burial place of Jesus. Ronni and I meet Richard, the site’s director, who will be taking us for a tour of this amazing site where you can see the Golgotha rock. Throughout the garden, voices echo with a delightful sounds of prayer and song."


Three options: Revisit the Roman Empire | Climbing the Fortress | Sea of Galilee



1.7 Sea of Galilee


"We get in our car and drive towards the Sea of Galilee region. We decide to extend our route a little bit and pass by the city of Haifa. In the heart of the bursting city we see the spectacular landscape of the hanging gardens giving us wonderful feelings of serenity and spirituality that emanate from the site. 


After this we continue towards the sea of Galilee which is also known as the Kinneret, Israel’s largest sweet water lake. Jesus lived and did his ministry in these picturesque surroundings. Friendly faces greet us in a variety of churches that were built and dedicated to mark Jesus actions and work in the area. And the view…there is no more breathtaking panorama than what surrounds the Kinerret. I personally am in love with this place."




Replay video for the option “Nazareth”





1.8 Nazareth


"We decide to head up north, to Galilee, to visit the city of Nazareth. Ronnie and I are arriving at the church of the enunciation, a catholic church located in the center of Nazareth, dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to Christian believers, Mary’s house stood here. The Church is adorned with mosaics of Virgin Mary who were donated by Christian communities from all over the world. Hundred of thousands of believers who come to Israel visit the church of the Enunciation and the neighboring Christian orthodox EnunciationChurch."




Three options: Revisit the Roman Empire | Climbing the Fortress| Sea of Galilee




Virtual Tour of Christian Interest 



Christian Interest Tour corresponds to: http://vt.goisrael.com/template.aspx?id=29

(Starts from the Mount of Olives)


Excerpts from the virtual tour


DAY 1 | JERUSALEM: Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane (Jesus’ arrest), Room of Last Supper, Church of Dormition

Begin in Jerusalem with the inspiring panoramic view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives. From here it is a short walk to Dominus Flevit and then a walk (or drive) to the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane.

Continue to the Temple Mount, scene of Abraham’s offering of Isaac today marked by the Dome of the Rock.

Then, it’s on to the Western Wall, revered as Judaism most sacred site as the last remnant of the SecondTemple. On Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays you can see Bar Mitzva ceremonies at the Western Wall, the joyful occasion when a Jewish boy of 13 reads from the Torah in public for the first time. 


Continue to Mount Zion, to visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, where Peter denied Jesus, King David’s Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper and theChurch of the Dormition - where by Catholic tradition Mary fell in to eternal sleep.'

DAY 2 | JERUSALEM: Pool of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa (Street where Jesus carried the cross), Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Garden Tomb
"It’s time to get to know Jerusalem close-up today. Begin at St. Stephen’s Gate, also known as Lion’s Gate, and visit the Pool of Bethesda - site of the miraculous healing of a paralyzed man by Jesus (…).

Take the Via Dolorosa passing the Stations of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the ancient site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

Wander the OldCity markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas, and try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.

End your day at the Garden Tomb – a rock hewn tomb believed by Protestant denominations to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection."

"Start the day with a visit to the Christian holy sites around the Sea of Galilee, including:
The Mount of Beatitudes: The traditional site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with its beautiful view of the lake and its sacred sites.
Capernaum: Known as "Jesus' Town" - Jesus performed many miracles.
Tabha: Jesus' miracle of the Multiplication of the Fish and Loaves is illustrated beautifully in an ancient mosaic of the Byzantine church that stood here.
Bethsaida: Home of Peter, Andrew and Philip and scene of Jesus’ healing of a blind man.

In the afternoon, drive to scenic Mount Tabor, scene of Deborah and Barak’s battle against Sisera, and of the Transfiguration of Jesus."

"Drive to Cana - the village where Jesus performed the first miracle, turning water into wine, with the Wedding Church and the Church of Nathanael.
Continue to Nazareth - childhood town of Jesus, with the Basilica of the Annunciation; (…)"






2. Traveling to Palestine


The Official Site for Tourism in Palestine http://travelpalestine.ps/




JERUSALEM http://travelpalestine.ps/jerusalem-2/



BETHLEHEM, HOLY TO CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS http://travelpalestine.ps/bethlehem-2/


(Bethlehem is 8km from Jerusalem)

The city of Bethlehem is holy to both Christians and Muslims. It is acknowledged as the birthplace of Jesus Christ or, in Arabic, Issa, who is known as the Son of God in Christian belief and a divinely inspired prophet to Muslims. The Church of the Nativity, a Byzantine basilica, was built by Helena (the mother of the Emperor Constantine), to commemorate Jesus’ birth. It is built on top of a cave where, according to a tradition first documented in the second century AD, Jesus was born. It was first dedicated in 339 AD.



NABLUS, HOME TO SAMARITANS  http://travelpalestine.ps/nablus/

Nablus, approximately 63 kilometers north of Jerusalem, is the second largest city in the West Bank.

(…)Another significant site is Jacob’s Well, 2 kilometers east of Nablus by the village of Balata. It’s the site where Jesus s said to have asked a Samaritan woman to draw water from a well for him.



Article: Have you met a Samaritan? The majority of the Samaritan community lives in MountGerizim, Jarzim in Arabic, near the city of Nablus in the West Bank


HEBRON http://travelpalestine.ps/hebron/




3. Religious Tourism


International Conference on Religious Tourism: Fostering sustainable socio-economic development for host communities
Bethlehem, Palestine, 15 June 2015 - 16 June 2015
(From the Middle East Section of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) site http://www2.unwto.org/)





4. The Ceremony of the Holy Light in Jerusalem


A ceremony which is held by the Eastern Christian Orthodox at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre/Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem is taking place every year from the 4th century A.D. 


The Holy Light was tranferred today on Holy Friday 2016-04-30, with special flights from Jerusalem to all christian orthodox communities in different countries.

Link for Ceremony live streaming: http://www.tv4e.gr/livestreaming.php 
Some tweets below:
With this GooglePlay app by @tv4e you can view the Holy Light Ceremony in #Jerusalem now play.google.com/store/apps/det… pic.twitter.com/mg3hMEwe3k
With this iPhone app by @tv4e you can view the Holy Light Ceremony in #Jerusalem now itunes.apple.com/us/app/4e-tv/i…
After John of Damascus watched the Holy Light Ceremony at #Jerusalem, he said: "Then everything became light!" pic.twitter.com/Bmxz3fVxK1
Watching the light ceremony.Rev. Hesychius:"The anticipation-agony of joy".Mixed feeling.Aγωνία της χαράς-Χαρμολύπη pic.twitter.com/Yo0WWeZyFu
Holy Light Ceremony @ #Jerusalem now! ~20 flights to depart to carry the light!We can have it 30min before midnight! pic.twitter.com/5DKFDVaatz
(End of tweets)


CBS News coverage of the 2014 ceremony  http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/thousands-attend-holy-fire-ceremony/


At the beginning of the ceremony, Christian Arabs celebrate with chants, drums and dancing.


At the 2015 streaming, the narrator says that this is in accordance with the Christian tradition as described in the psalms:

Psalm 150:4-6 "Praise God with drum and dance! Praise God with strings and pipe! Praise God with loud cymbals!"

Ψαλμοί Δαβίδ: Αινείτε αυτόν εν τυμπάνω και χορώ· αινείτε αυτον εν χορδαίς και οργάνω. Αινείτε αυτόν εν κυμβάλοις ευήχοις·  


(Tradition says that once the Christian Arabs were making too much noise. The Holy Fire would not light up that year and the Patriarch exited the Sepulchre and asked them to be quiet. As the Holy Fire would still not light up, the Patriarch told them to resume as previously. Suprisingly, the Holy Fire then did light up!)



At around 12 noon, the Patriarch of Jerusalem assumes his place on the Holy Step. He is joined by the representatives of the Armenians, Syrians and Copts.



Image of the Patriarch in front of the entrance of the Holy Sepulchre (which is below the icon of Jesus).



 Copt Priest. This year 7.000 Copts from Egypt came for the ceremony. (Note that the capacity of the Church building that holds the ceremony is 10.000 people). 


At around 2pm the Patriarch of Jerusalem enters the Holy Sepulchre and exits briefly after with the Holy Light.


"The Holy Light is first received, according to custom, by a privileged Arabic family, which almost instantaneously transfers it to the Holy Step where it is received by the Sacristan of the All Holy Tomb, who then passes it to the rest of the Christians." *



1:44 PM - 30 Apr 2016



The ceremony inspired John of Damascus to write :

"Now everything becomes light!" (το φως , του φωτός=genitive case cf photon)








Huffington Post Article 2015: Stunning Holy Fire Ritual Lights Up Orthodox Easter In Jerusalem


Holy Light arrives from Jerusalem to Greece (with head of state honors) 2015 http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/04/11/holy-light-in-athens-on-special-flight-from-jerusalem/ 




(Greek Sunday newspaper included hardcover booklet on Jerusalem and the Christianity Holy Land - 2015).












Analysis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict




Scham & Peleg: #IranDeal should be used as stepping-stone to reengage region in tackling Israeli-Palestinian conflict bit.ly/1DfojAA



The already emerging cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab states, based on important mutual interests, will constitute the strongest possible basis for such a deal, and already demonstrates that the traditional Israeli fear of being overwhelmed by an Arab coalition is no longer relevant. While it is to be hoped that Israel and the PLO would come to a consensual agreement, the P5+1 coalition, which worked well in negotiating the Iran deal, will probably need to take an active role in moving forward on solving this long, bloody conflict.



A dream city in Palestine- Une ville revée en Palestine


Article du journal "Le Monde"





Israel-Palestine: A World Diplomacy effort to comprehend patriotic and religious ideals, to undestand sacred sentiment and to propose solutions


The 1995-2005 negociations and laborious diplomatic efforts




Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace is the name of a three-part British documentary series shown in October 2005 on BBC Two about the attempts to settle the Israeli–Palestinian conflict after the 2000 Camp David Summit.


BBC link


"Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace"

A three part documentary series examines the last six years of the Arab-Israeli peace process from the point of view of presidents and prime ministers, their generals and ministers and those behind the suicide bombs and assassinations. The series reveals what happened behind closed doors as the peace process failed and the violence of the intifada exploded.

Programme 1: CLINTON (1999/2000)


Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Barak persuaded US President Bill Clinton to devote his last 18 months in office to helping make peace with Yasser Arafat.

But after tense negotiations the deal was never made.

Then Ariel Sharon made a controversial visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem, a site which is also holy to Jews. 



Programme 1 - Part 1

YouTube link

Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian people meets Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel.
Y.A.to journalist: Do you know that we are now essentially the only people who are under occupation? Who can accept this?
E.B. to journalist: I told him “Wars are always painful. Both sides suffer. Now it is our job to find a solution."
Bill Clinton: If we solve the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, we can clearly make a larger peace in the Middle East. 
Syrians would make peace with Israelis, the Israelis Arab neighbours would then have normal relationships with them and together they could 
build a whole new Middle East.
Ehud Barak pays a visit to Washington.
E.B. to journalist: We rehearsed strategies for dealing with opponents.
Barak's strategy was first to start to seek peace not with Palestine but with its neighbour, Syria.
EB:I told him "Syria matters would be simpler. There's no fatherland, no holy sites. Only some old synagogues, some Jews once...but not any 
But in Syria, Assad would never dream of receiving an Israeli. So Clinton sent his secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to Damascus 
(7 December 1999).
The welcome from the foreign Minister was friendly but firm: “No peace talks until Israel withdraws from occupied Syrian land. 
A withdrawal would be a withdrawal to 4th June 1967 lines. In other words, where the Syrians were one day before the war that started on 


In the six day war in 1967, Israel had captured the Golan heights above the lake the bible calls the sea of Gallilei. In demanding it back, 
President Assad was known to be intransigent.
The above prerequisite was not accepted by the Israeli site and the talks that followed did not have a result.

Programme 1 - Part 2



[6:01 to 8:09]

To try to deliver on his mandate for peace, Ehud Barak sent his Interior Minister, Shlomo Ben Ami, to the occupied territories (West Bank) to 

make a pitch on 25 June 2000.


Saeb Erekat (Palestinian Chief Negociator): Shlomo ben Ami came with one message from Ehud Barak. It is time for leaders to meet and make 

the historic decisions. It is time for a summit.


Shlomo Ben Ami (Israel Interior Minister): Arafat was not impressed. Jerusalem was all he wanted to talk about. He asked again and again, 

“What about Jerusalem?”


East Jerusalem was where the Palestinians wanted the capital of their new state. It contained the Old city with its holy site sacred to both 

Muslims and Jews. The Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and Temple Mount with its Wailing wall to Jews.



The Temple Mount or Al Haram Al Sharif comprises the al-Aqsa Mosque, next to the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the 


Since the 1967 war is has all been occupied land administered by Israel.


Yasser Arafat now suggested they share. Rome had shown the way.


Yasser Arafat: Jerusalem to be the capital of two states as Rome is the capital of two states. The capital of his holiness the Pope and the 

capital of the Italian government.


Saeb Erekat: President Arafat spoke so much about Jerusalem and he wanted to show the message that he knows Jerusalem and that 

Jerusalem is the most important thing. So (he told me), “how can you take me to a summit without this chapter on Jerusalem”? “It is not about 

borders, it is not about anything, it is about Jerusalem.”


Nevertheless, President Clinton invited both sides to a summit and Arafat could not turn down an invitation from the President of the United States.




Programme 2: ARAFAT (2001/2002)

The former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell attempted to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, his efforts were derailed by his own hard-line colleagues.

And the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat himself.


Programme 3: SHARON (2003-2005)

President Bush was determined to stay out of Middle East peace-making.

But the war in Iraq forced him to court Arab allies.

He needed to push Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon back towards peace.

But Ariel Sharon moved the goal posts. 



By “Unite4Peace” 14-7-2007

"Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace" is a documentary co-produced by PBS and the BBC about the Middle-East Process from 1999-2005. It covers in detail the negotiations between the parties, the points of contention and gives us an idea of why it all ultimately fell apart.

My hope is that by sharing this documentary and others likes it, it may help promote understanding between the two sides. Please leave comments on the final part of each episode. Inciteful and hateful comments will be deleted. Both sides have known too much hatred. Let us try to build bridges instead. 

I would encourage you to also visit http://www.onevoicemovement.org and http://www.gnblog.com as there is some good material there too, and people working together towards peace, and mutual tolerance and understanding.




Conférence internationale des donateurs pour l’Etat palestinien (Paris, 17 décembre 2007)

Déclaration commune lue par le Ministre
Au nom de la Présidence et des co-Présidences
Conférence internationale des donateurs pour l’Etat palestinien