Today I watched a short movie (it could have, and should have been, much longer) that looked at the history of Jerusalem and its present state of conflict through the eyes of three very lovely young women who are not all that different. Though one is a Jew, one is a Muslim, and one is a Christian, all three of the young ladies have a love of family and music, are generally curious and well-spoken and kindhearted in their portrayal. In short, the people of National Geographic made a conscious decision to portray Jerusalem in the perspective of the most sympathetic people possible, to have the minimum possible difference between the many divided people who make that troubled city home, young women who are attractive and serious-minded but not bigoted.
That was not the only canny choice made by the creators of the Jerusalem movie . For one, the movie sought to elevate the temple mount to a major place of worship for the Jebusites as well, even if the place was a threshing floor at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by David (per the Bible). Likewise, the movie made some major concessions to Muslim sensibilities in providing justification for the Muslim control of the Temple Mount because of its neglect by the Byzantines (neglecting the prior Jewish claim that had been denied through the Roman Empire) as well as refusing to state which son was brought to Mount Moriah to serve as an offering, since the Bible and the Koran have different comments to make about that particular story (an example in which the Muslims have tampered with the biblical account in order to justify Ishmael as opposed to Isaac).
It was striking to see the film, despite its flaws and its clear political correctness, in that I have walked the streets of Old Jerusalem myself. Despite my criticism of the city, having walked the streets of Old Jerusalem allowed me to recognize the sights and sounds and how they fit in time and space, filling in the gaps from the movie, and also appreciating the seminal importance of archeology in understanding the history of Jerusalem. I must say that I did not always enjoy walking the streets, but I have walked them and sometimes that makes a big difference in how one views it. I have to say that I probably had the darkest view of Jerusalem compared to all of the other people I watched the film with, and the film made some of the people even more enthusiastic about visiting Jerusalem who had never been to Israel before. Hopefully they would not be disappointed if they make the journey.
One of the more interesting sites in Jerusalem that I have seen and that played a major role in the film was the Western (or “Wailing”) Wall, which is the most holy site in contemporary Jerusalem that exists for Jewish worship. What is curious, at least to me, is that my own observations as well as the film showed the same phenomenon in terms of worship at the Western Wall. About two-thirds of the wall is reserved for the worship of men, but about two-thirds of the people who worship there at the wall are women. Methinks it should be a bit more equitable. Of course, no one asked my opinion, but then again, people seldom do. It seldom matters either.