Stranger In A Strange Land

[Brian of London here with some background: Our good friends at StandWithUs organised to bring friend of Israel and Israellycool contributor, Ryan Bellerose to Israel. They did this over the Yom Hazikaron / Yom Haatzmaut two day holiday.

You can find all Ryan’s posts from his trip to Israel here.

Ryan’s powerful writing, showing how the real indigenous people of Israel are the Jews, took the Internet by storm a few months ago and he’s been a staunch supporter of Israel for a long time. This is his first trip to Israel, a country he’s found so much common cause with as an indigenous Native American.

Yom Hazikaron is the memorial day for those who fell in war and at the hands of terrorists. That solemn day transitions (tonight) into the joy of Yom Haatzmaut: Independence Day. Ryan posted the following on Facebook following his trip to Yad Vashem (which he’s yet to write in full about).  These two days are enormously important because Jews are the only native people to return and get our country back: the way we mourn our fighting dead then flip to joy at having our nation makes me tear up just typing it. You can’t understand the mood of this country and the transition that occurs till you experience it.]

My Day was far from over after my trip to Yad Vashem.  I returned to the hotel, posted and then met with an analyst from the Israeli Government, who is brilliant.  We talked about a lot of really interesting things such as how the Holocaust affects the Jewish mindset and the way the conflict is viewed in different contexts, a really interesting conversation.

Then Michael Dickson, Director of StandWithUs-Israel met me at the hotel and we walked down to the Old City.  This kid from Paddle walked the same streets that Jesus walked, the same paths that Solomon and David walked.  It was intense.  I saw the Tower of David, the last defence of the city of Jerusalem, the Citadel. Then we walked to an apartment and the lady opened her home to us, which has one of the one of the most amazing views of the Kotel that is even possible, and we watched the Yom Hazikaron Memorial ceremony. It was literally the best seat in the house.

Then, Michael and I walked down to the Western Wall.  It was something I cannot describe.  it’s one of the holiest places on earth and I stood at the base of the Wall and prayed.

Ryan in Jerusalem (photo credit: therealjerusalemstreets)

Ryan in Jerusalem (photo credit: therealjerusalemstreets)

We walked back and arrived just as a Jewish lady was lecturing some religious Jewish kids about teasing the soldiers guarding the flame. I don’t think those kids understood that without those soldiers they would have nowhere to pray; hell, most likely they wouldn’t be alive. They should be thanking God for those soldiers and praying for their safety not mocking them. The one kid apologised after Michael spoke to him a bit, but it boggles my mind how they can think like that.

I haven’t seen any signs of Apartheid yet.  In fact, I had a picture taken with two Israeli Soldiers who have darker skin than Merv.  The only segregation I have seen so far was the seperation of meat and dairy eaters at Yad Vashem; as a carnivorous person I didn’t feel very oppressed by the lack of cheese with my meat.  What I have seen are women in short summer dresses, walking alongside men in dark robes and suits, Arabs, Jews, black people, Chinese people, you name it, all walking the same streets. I wish you could all be here with me.  It’s life changing.  Actually, scratch that – I don’t really want anyone to see me crying like a big baby – and so far, three times since I’ve been here I have had tears in my eyes.  It’s just really intense.

You can find all Ryan’s posts from his trip to Israel here.


Ryan Bellerose

A member of the indigenous Metis people, Ryan grew up in the far north of Alberta, Canada with no power nor running water. In his free time, Ryan plays Canadian Rules Football, reads books, does advocacy work for indigenous people and does not live in an Igloo.

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