A ten-day tour of Israel culminated in Jerusalem at the southern wall of the Temple Mount built as part of the Second Temple. It was Friday, a day of prayers, at the start of Ramadan, near the beginning of Holy Week – the Old City was thronged. The trip was conducted like a graduate seminar about a new country in a very old land. The visual elements of sites were combined with highly informed discussions of the history, architecture, and culture, along with a lot of politics, ancient and current.
The visit ended just as Israel’s struggle to protect its young democracy while reconciling deep social differences reached its climax. The country is as polarized as the U.S. Highlighting the drama of the moment, I flew out the day that Ben Gurion Airport had to close due to political turmoil and just before the Prime Minister paused in his party’s goal of restraining the Supreme Court.
As an important ally to the U.S. and the only functioning democracy in the region, we are hopeful for a peaceful resolution of the political gridlock.
UCLA provides a first-rate tour that leaves you with greater understanding of the politics and deep appreciation of the beauty of the country and people.