‘NYT’ Travel section features visit to another planet

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There’s a piece called “Lost in Jerusalem” on the front page of the NYT Travel section. The author is travel writer Matt Gross, who says as a Jew he regarded Israel as “a politically iffy burden” and therefore did not visit it till last fall, when a Jewish friend challenged him and he felt life “calling my bluff.” And then the iffiness gave way to splendiferousness. A reader writes:

The Old City of Jerusalem is made out to be in Israel. There is only the vaguest reference to Arab East Jerusalem. He describes the wall as separating Israel from the West Bank–a clear error.

The low beige buildings of Arab East Jerusalem covered the hills in the near distance, and on clear days I could see the sinuous, ominous wall separating Israel from the West Bank.

The New York Times describes this wall as separating Israel and the West Bank.In fact it separates occupied East Jerusalem from other portions of occupied East Jerusalem

He talks about coming out of Yad Vashem and seeing “a picture-perfect valley, a white-washed village clinging to the far slope. I stared at it a long time before I could move on.” This is presumably where the ethnically-cleansed village of Deir Yassin was.

The shallowness of his visit is repeatedly established, perhaps one consequence of his determination to see the place “without benefit of map or guidebook.” Israeli security measures are described as “fascinating.” I can’t see that word springing to mind for Palestinians subjected to them.

But leave I did, often well after 1 a.m., late enough that the Israeli guards in the Old City would interrogate and search me on my way back to the guesthouse. As an occasional experience, the security measures were fascinating, much more thorough and intelligent than the cursory T.S.A. sweeps I’m used to. I could also sense the tension they created, and again found myself amazed at what true believers will do, and submit to, in the name of their faith.

And oh, there’s one reference to 1967:

The transition from Old City to new was striking. Exiting through one of the 16th-century gates that still control access — touristy Jaffa Gate, busy Damascus Gate, historic Zion Gate, where Israeli soldiers entered in 1967 — I leapt forward into a distinctly modern world of crosswalks and traffic lights, 19th-century buildings and chunky apartment towers, green parks and municipal offices, falafel joints, cellphone stores and a brand-new light-rail system.

The word Palestine does not appear in the piece. Palestinian appears twice:

I passed Palestinian women selling bundles of sage near Damascus Gate…

I bellied up, ordered the excellent Palestinian “upside-down” chicken-and-rice dish, and quizzed the bartender

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