|12th century monastery we|
explored in Jericho
As two lapsed Catholics, it was particularly fascinating to visit so many religious sites remembered
|Jesus's body was anointed here, |
ergo a VERY holy rock
Besides an abundance of holy rocks, the other constant throughout the trip was a heightened awareness of Paul’s “otherness”. Mostly it came in unwelcoming stares, but there were also comments and, on one occasion, a group of jeering teenagers that surrounded Paul. Although we saw plenty of friendly faces too, those moments kept us on edge.
Everywhere we went, people would yell “Baba Israel”. We finally looked it up and discovered that Baba Israel is an Israeli rapper currently residing in Brooklyn. In fact, he’s involved with many people that Paul knows and works with. We even found an old flier for a Baba Israel show when cleaning our apartment after we came home. Amazing coincidence, yes. But still not OK to shout rap names at the black guy.
It didn’t help that while there, we were also watching news from home unfold about the shooting in Charleston. Ironically, the blatant prejudice we felt in Israel gave me a greater appreciation of the Zionist zeal. What oppressed group of people wouldn’t want a place to call their own.
|Paul with Tamar after she|
played Woods' album at
It was in the midst of all this that we found refuge at Uganda Bar. Our AirBnb host recommended it to us as a place that captured the heart of the artistic community of Jerusalem. Not only a bar, it also serves as a record and comic book store, a performance venue and an independent music label. They offer the controversial beer of Palestine and it seemed to be the hub of all tattooed people in Jerusalem. It felt like Brooklyn.
While there, we struck up conversation with the bartender and a couple from New Zealand. Answering the “what do you do” question, Paul replied that he was a record producer and engineer, which led to the “anyone we would have heard of” question. Turns out the bartender is a big fan of Billy Woods, and she opens iTunes to show us her copy of History Will Absolve Me. She insists on playing the album, and suddenly the bar is flooded with voices literally from our kitchen. It was surreal and comforting to hear our friends, and even my sister, when we were an ocean away from home and feeling like outsiders.
Our experience in Israel is likely to be repeated most places we travel, even within the United States. There are certainly no regrets, and we won't be deterred. We saw so many amazing places and had such incredible experiences, and we will forever be enriched. But, it sure was nice to find a sanctuary for rappers in the Holy Land.