Sandy’s Israeli and Palestinian musings

Israel and the Palestinian Territories blog
imageI came to Israel and the Palestinian Territories with a fairly naive understanding of the current political and social situation on the ground. I had studied the Six Day War and some of that period of history (1967-8) at either university or school, I can’t quite remember. I had even won a trivia night question on the dates of this period of the Israeli/Arab conflict back in 2000.
Let it be said from the start, the perspective we gained was not from the typical tourist experience. This in itself is quite a concern as we went to places and did things and heard things that the average tourist would really have very little chance of accessing. Hence how do alternate stories get out?
Therein lies part of the problem; public perception is that the conflict over land is a conflict between two equal and opposing forces. This perception is so far from the truth. I do not follow any organised religion, I do however believe strongly in a great spirit, a creative energy that connects all beings and things… So this is not a religious discussion for me. What I want to share is observations and information from my visit, of people. First and foremost people of the earth, not of religions or races or cultures…. These are my perceptions of the dynamics of power, and the impacts on lives of women, children and men.
There was an agreement of a ‘green line’ – a division of land that was agreed upon (sorry can’t remember when). In Israel and the Palestinian Territories a very large concrete wall is partly erected and in the process of being erected. See some photos of this below… Reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. The obscene reality is that the agreed upon green line for the wall is not being adhered to much at all. The Israelis are pushing out the wall to claim more land, all the fertile land owned by Palestinian families is being cut off from owners; families land/income and livelihood and people cut off from medical services.


The pushing of the wall is reducing every opportunity for the Palestinian population to maintain any self sustainability or independence. There is a definite systematic reduction of choice, opportunity and self rule for the Palestinian people. I really loved the examples that Christos shared earlier so I won’t repeat them…
I do want to add one… Of a family in the West Bank…. They had productive farm land that the Israelis built the wall right next to. I can’t remember the details however I think the documentary we saw showed 3 times over several years, the ripping out of trees and crops that the Palestinians planted and lived off the income of, claiming more and more ‘no mans’ land each time…
So instead of more stories, please think of this tree below. I happened to glance at it as we ate our sandwiches in a busy square after visiting Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem. Look at the inscription.
imageI pray for humanity and the earth. May insight and wisdom in the form of respect and tolerance of diversity spread it’s peace very very soon…

Now on a more personal level… We stayed with friends Carolyn and Martin from Melbourne. Yiayia asked one day, how we all knew each other. As Caro and I spoke we realised the multiple levels of family connections. Caro and my parents knew each other, I went to kinder around the corner from them, we went to the same school although a year apart, we were at uni and in a political team together elected to the student union, our grandmas knew each other, and then there is the Martin connection; he was one of my cousin’s best mates at uni – my cousin Michael lived with us, so I first knew Martin by his nickname ‘Chook’ – Michael’s wife Wendy’s sister is actually married to Caro’s first cousin…. So the connections are multifaceted and meant to be.
We holidayed with these guys when they were working in Kosovo. We were visiting Greece and both our families made wild journeys across the borders to meet in Ochrid, Macedonia. That was a tale of epic juggling of young kids, Carolyn putting on a memorable ballet performance in an ancient Amphitheatre-like ruin, and parents that were determined to explore.
Thank you Carolyn and Martin. What you have given of your hearts and souls to us on this trip and to the displaced and threatened people of this world through your work is astounding. Your children are remarkable, their personalities, and knowledge and love is palpable… We can’t wait until you return to Australia and when you venture abroad for work again, we will meet with you again for more family holidays.

By Mama Miliking


Wrap up on our Israel trip – by Moochie, Zoi and special guest – Yiayia

Hello this is Emilio – we left from our friends home today and we walked up a big hill but I got a taxi with baba and Yiayia because Yiayia can’t walk that far.
imageWe walked on top of the wall of the old city of Jerusalem. We started from Jaffa gate. Yiayia didn’t come with us – she went on her own to a Greek Church. The wall was very fun. An old lady dropped a bag of tomatoes and we helped her pick them up. We saw three men playing music – I ran over to them and gave them some coins and they said ‘Thank-you’. We walked all the way to Damascus gate and waited there for Martin and Carolyn and we had a souvlaki burger which was yummy.

Then we walked to a cave that was really big and also fun because we found a little waterfall.
We walked all the way back to Jaffa gate and waited there for Yiayia. She was slow to come back so we went on the wall of the old city in the south part to a big wall where people were praying and clapping and singing.

image image
On the way home we saw some people climbing and being filmed for the television. Then we got home and played with the other kids who got home from school. I better go and play now – goodbye from Emilio.



imageloved playing with Zahra and her toys. She had such good toys.

imageMy best thing was going to the Jerusalem zoo for my sister Kalika’s birthday. We got to feed birds some special food that they gave us.



imageI really liked the waterfalls cause it felt nice to have the water going down on me.






imageWe had the boys from downstairs come to dinner with us and they were Gabe and Ned – Gabe was the little boy and Ned was the big boy. Gabe was very strong – he even got Emilio down in the tent. It was even funner with two more kids, but it was rougher.

imageI loved running along the old Jerusalem city wall – but only a tiny bit cause our friends’ house was even more fun.

Carolyn and Martin picked us up very late at night. One day they met us at the old city and took us out for lunch and showed us some caves.

I really liked Israel.

by Zoi


imageIsrael was so nice. It was wonderful to see these lovely friends of Christos and Sandy picking us up in the middle of the night.
They took us home and they even gave me their bedroom – holy sweet Virgin Mary they were so nice.

The next day they took us on an excursion to a nice national park and waterfalls and they helped me to get under the waterfall – it felt so nice.

imageThen we went to the Dead Sea where they plastered me in mud and they helped me to get in the water. Toby got me in the water first and told me I would float but I got scared cause one leg was going up and the other on the ground. I got a fright. Toby was laughing and some other tourists had to help me.



image imageBut then Martin and Christos held my hand and we went in and I floated. It was very good for my legs. Then we had to climb up the big hill again.








image imageWe went to a monastery called Agios Gerasimos near Jericho and it was nice to light some candles there.

imageWe went to the Jordan river where Jesus was baptised and we dipped in the water too. It was so nice and very weird that one side was Israel and the other was Jordan. There were guards on both sides.

We went to the old city of Jerusalem to a church called ‘Naos of St Anastasios’ where Jesus tomb was and where he was crucified.

imageWe also even went to Bethlehem – I got to see were Jesus was baptised, where he was born and where he died. I felt very good. We met the man who is the key-holder for the church of Anastasios where Jesus died. He was very nice and told us stories.

image imageMartin and Carolyn and the kids were such nice nice people. The last day we all cooked together and I made them a cheese pita. We had a short rest and then they had to take us to the airport at 1.30am because we needed to have 3 hours to go through security at the airport. So nice of them to drive us.

By Yiayia Vasiliki



Kiki’s 8th Birthday in Jerusalem and Bethlehem

My 8th birthday in Jerusalem

imageOur friends, Zahra, Alex and Marcus, had a day off school on my birthday and we went to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. It was awesome fun.



imageThere were lots of animals like elephants, monkeys, frogs and snakes.

imageThere were two zebras – one was biting the others bottom and the other zebra was kicking it in the face with it’s back legs – as if to say ‘stop it’. It was so funny to watch. We went to a cafe which was on a boat called ‘Noah’s Ark’. There was a little cinema there where we watched a short movie about a man who collected animals and gave them to the zoo.





imageWe got a little cup of sort of milky nectar stuff to feed the birds. When you wanted to move on and feed another bird they would hold on to the little cup with their claws. One of the birds bit me and it hurt so much I spilled so much of the nectar.
imageThere was an awesome park that we went to. It had mosaic climbing sculptures and Tony, Alex and I were climbing on them and pretending we were in jail. Then I played with Yasi, Marcus and Zahra
We were playing a game where we had a space ship and Toby and Alex were the bad guys. They were going to wreck our planet and we had to save it. We won.
When we were back at the entrance we had an ice cream which was nice cause it was very very hot. I had a silver coated magnum which was so delicious.

imageFor my special dinner we had lasagne and an amazing salad. it was really really yummy and Carolyn is the best cook.



image After dinner we had the best cake – it was a berry cheesecake. imageIt was so awesome because there was a rocket fireworks candle in the middle and it went up sparkling.
For my birthday I got the movie Frozen from mummy and baba and three vouchers. One was for the Jerusalem zoo, one was to go scuba diving with our friends in Ios and also the other was going to a water park in Crete with my friends Isabella, Manolis and Alex. From Carolyn and Martin and the kids I got a babushka doll to make out of fabric, a notebook and a mask making kit. They are awesome. I also got some cards and loom bands from my grandma and uncle Ricky’s family.
It was an awesome birthday but I also wish my friend Charlotte from Australia was there. I miss her so so so so so so so so much.

by Kikibelle

I’m so glad that Kiki had a great birthday – Carolyn and Martin were amazing hosts and helped to make her day fabulous. imageBefore we went to the zoo we thought we would make a side trip to Bethlehem to see the birth church of Jesus. It was definitely an eye opener. Bethlehem is in Area A which means it’s under Palestinian control but also that you have to go through a checkpoint – getting in didn’t take too long cause we showed our Greek/Australian passports but it dawned on me that when we got in – the hire car that Sandy was driving and following Carolyn isn’t insured in the West Bank. I was so so worried of having an accident because it would mean our trip was over and we would have to come home if we had a car bill. Anyway – all was well in the end and I was so glad that Sandy was driving cause I can be a bit of a stress head in very built up busy areas, especially parking in tricky situations.
imageAnyway – we got to the church and saw the line of people that wanted to see the birthplace – my immediate thought was ‘we don’t really need to see it that badly’ (I just don’t do lines). imageHowever  Carolyn chatted to a guide and it wasn’t too expensive and he quickly whisked us into a procession and put candles in our hands so we looked like we were there from the start and straight down to the birth chamber. – it was wonderful to hear the Franciscan monks chanting during the procession. So we were in and out of the church within about 1/2 and hour. A very efficient visit and Yiayia was ever so pleased.

imageimageThe kids loved playing chasey in Bethlehem square while the Sandy and Carolyn picked up the cars from goodness knows how far away they had to park!










imageIt took forever to get out through the checkpoint – driving along the imposing wall. Tuesday 6th of May was Israel Independence Day which means that the checkpoints were closed to all Palestinian traffic – they couldn’t get out even if they worked in ‘Israel’. imageAnyway I breathed a sigh of relief when we got through the checkpoint and our car was insured once more – and on to the zoo for Kiki’s special day.

by Baba Miliking


Israel and Palestine – The holy land!

imageWhat an absolute treat to spend a bit under a week with our wonderful friends – Carolyn and Martin and their three gorgeous kids Alex, Marcus and Zahra – who are pretty much similar ages to our kids. They are such amazing hosts and it was wonderful to reconnect with them after about 3 or 4 years. Last time we had a family holiday together was in Ohrid, Macedonia when they were working in Kosovo and we were in Greece back in 2007. That was an awesome holiday so I knew our time in Israel would be fab.
It has always been my mother’s dream to visit Jerusalem and see all the religious sites. So we thought we would make this dream happen for her as well as spend time with our gorgeous friends.

There was even room for tents on the front porch  and indoor soccer.

There was even room for tents on the front porch and indoor soccer.

When Carolyn told me we could fit into their house I was like ‘Seriously……8 extra people in a 3-bedroom apartment?’ Then I remembered their as mad (or as easy going) as we are – I brought 3 sleeping bags and mats just in case!

Moochie showing everyone his dance moves

Moochie showing everyone his dance moves

However their apartment is huge and the kids are getting on so so well – it’s wonderful to see.





Israel is definitely surreal and I don’t know what to make of it yet due to the political atmosphere though the countryside is stark and beautiful. So much to see in such a small place. Anyway – more about politics in another blog – I have to digest it all a bit first. Here are some of the experiences of the kids:
By Baba Miliking
Yasmina’s Israel blog

When we arrived in Israel at 12.30am – my mum and baba’s friends Martin and Carolyn came to pick us up at the airport. They have three kids – Alex, Marcus and Zahra.
imageThey are from Australia but they live in Israel now. The first day we were there Martin, Carolyn, Alex, Marcus and Zahra took us to amazing waterfalls – it was so much fun.
Zahra and Kalika were peeling all the moss off the rock walls. Marcus, Zoi and Emilio were sliding down a little water fall. We stayed for about 1-2 hours.


imageWe also went to the Dead Sea which was so salty that if you had a cut it would sting so much and if it went in your mouth it would hurt. It was so salty that you floated. You couldn’t keep your legs on the floor of the sea. There is only one type of fish in the sea which is a small Hamels fish. Scientists say that in 50 years the Dead Sea will not exist unless they pump water from the Red Sea to top up of the Dead Sea because it evaporates.

imageAt the Dead Sea you can cover yourself in mud and it makes your skin all soft. It felt really nice.






imageFor dinner we went to the Lemon tree Restraunt in Jericho. It was yummy food with our friends.
By Yasi





imageHello this is Emilio – we went to a splash place – it wasn’t really a pool – it was a river with waterfalls – we went with Marcus and Alex and Zhara – they took us to the splash park but it’s really a National park. I threw a stone and it splashed the water and the water went over Toby – but the stone didn’t get on to anyone’s feet.
imageThen we moved to another pool that had a big big fall and a bigger pool and a rock slipper slide and we played there for ages.
imageThen we left to go to the Dead Sea – you could float but the salt made any of your sores sting but it also helped them to get better.






imageWe got all muddy there – we were like mud monsters. Toby, Alex, Marcus and I had lots of fun being mud monsters.
I went in to the boys car with Toby and Marcus and Alex and their dad Martin. We were talking about funny stuff and Marcus and I were speaking with big funny voices the whole time.



Yummy Palestinian Beer

Yummy Palestinian Beer

We ended up at the Lemon tree which is a Palestinian cafe in Jericho. It is the oldest city in the world. That cafe is so fun cause there’s a playground and toys that you put money in but the money just kept coming out so we used it lots of times.

Date palms were everywhere

Date palms were everywhere

We ate mixed grill and chips and pizza and chicken and meat with Palestinian sauce. It was the bestest thing to do with the bread and the sauce was to dip the bread into the sauce – it was delicious. There was a big table and a little table – the kids were all sitting together. There was a big big tower with wires sticking up. Then we went home – good bye – love from Emilio.