Looking at the History Channel program on the Bible I'm bothered by a simple issue.

What is the attraction of the place?

Honestly, if you take a step back and look at it, the place is, well, a dump.

Rocky land, poor sand, limited water, natural resources are what?

I wouldn't want to live there.

And to be honest, don't think I'd ever want to visit it.

Maybe it is just me, but has anyone ever sat these people who live there down and point this out to them?

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Comment by Peter Martin Page on November 24, 2013 at 6:36am

I went to Israel in 1974 because I wanted to live on a commune that wasn't part of a flaky cult like the communes in California. I lived on two different Kibbutzes. I learned I had taken for granted many freedoms I was enjoying in a Capitalist economy in Canada. On the Kibbutz you hand over so many little freedoms and authorities that you wouldn't consider important until you experience them. Someone else decides your housing, what will be for dinner, what job you will be doing, what movie you will see etc. I came to appreciate the freedom you enjoy from getting a pay check and deciding how to spend it.

Although I was in the Holy land, I did enjoy the degree Atheism was an influence on the Kibbutzes and cities such as Tel Aviv. As an Atheist I have not been anywhere where I felt as much comfort being amongst fellow Atheists. This was an ironic contrast of Israel. In the Holy Land you have a modern state that was founded by mostly labour movement Atheists but also a place that attracts the most extreme religious zealots from the three Mediterranean religions. 

You can see this difference in the different architecture and experience of being in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is designed as a modern, socialist, secular city. It is criss crossed by large boulevards with wide central islands with pedestrian and cycling paths. There are many benches that face each other and encourage socializing. The people of Tel Aviv are predominantly modern, liberal and secular. Last time I was there I sat down and was joined by a hip, seventy year old version of Sinead O'Connor who loudly let me know how she felt religion was bullshit and she was sick of paying taxes to support parasitic Haredi. There were also reasonable limits placed on the predatory behaviour of unlimited capitalism. The shoreline of Tel Aviv has been reserved for public use. Miles of recreation paths, restaurants and beaches. Here in Toronto we have a canyon of condos along our waterfront.

Jerusalem is the opposite. It is the manifestation of the divergent personality of religion. The zealots of different religions have divided this city into different religious sections. This is where you will find most of the Haredi. They will not only not speak to you; they won't look you in the eye as you walk past. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the rooms are run by different Christian sects. There are stories how they have gotten into fist fights because someone from the wrong sect swept the floor a few inches past a boundary. By far the most inhospitable area is the top of the Mount which is occupied by Muslims. It is the one place I was barred from viewing since Muslims do not allow non Muslims to enter. I didn't feel comfortable or welcome in Jerusalem, especially in the Muslim quarter. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem couldn't be more different.

As an Atheist I feel Tel Aviv is an example of the positive influence Atheism can have. It is a very free and welcoming city. It is a wonderful place to enjoy freedom and human creativity. It is also another example of the paradoxes to be found in humanity. Here in the Holy Land I found the city I felt most comfortable, and welcoming as an Atheist.

Comment by Mika Mikaela on November 22, 2013 at 4:29am

I've been living in Israel for almost 6 years now. I visited a lot of biblical and historical places out here.I could say I was a little amaze in the beginning wondering if this place that i am standing in was actually an exact place where miracle had happened.Israel is really good in preserving these holy places that some tourists would say they can actually feel they are so blessed.For me, it's simply an ancient architecture that i keep coming to. My friends are all religious so everytime we travel to the north or Jerusalem I keep pretending that i do pray with them.I cannot complain about the weather.I'm used to it.

Thousands of tourists are pouring in everyday.I can even see some pilgrim that are literally kissing the ground. 

Comment by Ted Foureagles on November 21, 2013 at 10:04am

The problem is that we have modern (at least temporally) people granting credence to an ancient book written by those trying to conquer other tribes, that promotes their particular tiny tribe as "chosen" above their enemies by their imaginary god.  Just listen to some of Bibi's rants, and reflect on why most the US congress applauds them.  The concept of the "Holy Land" remains relevant because it is unconditionally backed by the full power of the US.

Comment by Michael Penn on November 21, 2013 at 6:50am

The problem isn't the ones who live there, it's the so called christian world proclaiming Israel as the "holy land." Yep, it's "jesus country" alright. That's where he came from and that's the attraction of the place. Trouble is, the people over there don't hold the same beliefs for the "historical monuments" as the average christian does. This is very plain if you watch documentaries about the place. You can bet that Israel goes along with it though because they get money in tourism and lots of money from the USA for other reasons. (This $20 watch. For you $19.95.)

Notice the land over there and then ask yourself how anyone could make a living as a carpenter. There are hardly no trees. Either the bible translations are wrong and the term should have been rendered "builder," or the Romans, Jesus, and Joseph used the trees all up. The Romans just made too many wooden crosses, I guess.

Next you notice off and on some religious nut (even from America) claiming they are going there to live because god told them to build a house along the Gaza strip. These people are batshit crazy!



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