whats going on with gaza?


So, many may have read about the increasing tensions (well tensions + riots + rockets) that have been going on between Israel and the Gaza Strip. I just have a few comments on everything. 

First, wow, the news can be exaggerated. There are definitely pieces of truth in each of the stories. But, it has been hilarious to read what has been written about what's happening to us at the Jerusalem Center. Matthew Kalman, an established reporter came and spoke to us a few weeks ago about reporting in the Middle East. He used a term he called "parachute reporting", which describes people from outside the Middle East that essentially "drop in" and report on a story when they really have no idea what is actually going on. After living here for just over two months, I can see how skewed media has portrayed this area of the world. You have to live here, for an extended period of time, to really understand the people and the conflict that exists. 

We have been on lockdown for a few short periods of time, and certain areas of the city are restricted to us at certain times. We have also had two incidents where we needed to go into our bomb shelters. The first one shook me up a little, but I was never too scared. And the second one (that happened earlier this evening) didn't even phase me. We have the best bomb shelters in the country. Air filtration systems, plenty of room, and lots of food storage if we ever needed to stay for a while. The BYU Jerusalem Center Security staff and Administrator's have been phenomenal in making us safe and also feel safe. It's a little crazy to live in a place where you have to be prepared for incidents like these ones, but everything had been perfectly ok (for BYU Jerusalem students). The location of the Center is also safe. We reside in East Jerusalem, among the Palestinian neighborhoods, plus we can see the Dome of the Rock (one of the most sacred holy sites for the Muslims) from our windows. So, Gaza would not want to hurt this area because it is filled with their people. We have great relationships with the community around us, both Palestinian and Israeli.  

I don't mean to downplay everything that is happening. It's definitely serious, dangerous (for the people here and in Gaza) and very real. But, just know that though things can be a little scary at times, for the most part we are all happy and healthy here on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. 

Today we went on a field trip of the Jewish Quarter in the old city. We stood on the steps leading up to what used to be the temple, which was an amazing experience. A place that we know Christ would have walked many times in his life. Even though things can feel a little crazy here, I am thankful for my experience at the Jerusalem Center. Thanks for everyone who has expressed concern, and I will be sure to keep everyone posted. 

Josh, Jason, Alex, Brad.
 Me and Ali.

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