Some Hope on Sad Friday


It's orthodox "Good Friday" and I always wondered why it was called that. And here, it's not. The Arabic-speaking locals where Jesus was crucified call it "Sad Friday." Still, even here, Jesus is pictured as a European and does not have facial features resembling people from the region.

On the way from Ramallah to Jerusalem, one passes the Kalandia checkpoint, where art has sprung up on the wall Israel is building through Palestinian territory, helping to decimate Palestinian life.

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Gandhi was fond of saying that he was a Muslim and Hindu and a Jew and a Christian. That might have had an effect on me when I went to enter the grounds of the Dome of the Rock where both the Muslim guardians and Israeli soldiers asked me if I was a Muslim. I indicated I was.

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The Muslims were rather accepting; the Israeli soldiers less so; it was on their prompting that I said "There is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet," which I think technically makes me a Muslim and for that I have the Israeli military -- and Gandhi -- to thank. One Israeli soldier was quite disbelieving of my claim as I was leaving the grounds of the Dome of the Rock. In the midst of his interrogating me, a large group of Jews who seemed intent on praying on the ground of the Dome of the Rock appeared; the Israeli soldiers stopped them and -- after they were permitted to sing for quite a while -- they were shoved back.


I've heard of right-wing Jewish groups who are intent on doing away with the mosque on the presumed hope that they will find a temple beneath it, but this group seemed act as thought they thought the mosque was theirs.

[originally published at on April 21, 2006]