For six months I tried to enter Israel. I had two goals: to visit Meital, an Israeli friend who was in hospital with bone marrow cancer, and to visit Jerusalem.
In October 2020 I had received a clear message: ‘Go to Jerusalem. You are needed there.’ I didn’t quite understand what the message meant, but somehow it resonated deep in my heart. I had to go to Israel. I tried every possible route or contact to get into the country, but whatever I did, the border to the Holy Land remained closed. No one could get in. The Israeli government had hermetically closed the borders to foreigners as a precaution due to the corona virus. Only Israelis were allowed in, and sometimes not even they. There was nothing to do but wait.
In the meantime Anne and I had almost daily contact with Meital. Somehow she was an anchor in the chaos of the pandemic. Her calm voice and surrender to the process of her illness kept us on our toes. Don’t force anything, don’t go along with the issues of the day – which seemed to get worse as the pandemic passed – and keep our focus.
Somehow, my two goals—Meital and Jerusalem—were inextricably linked. Especially when it became clear that her treatment would not take place in China, nor in Germany, but in the hospital of Hadassah. Hadassah is located just outside Jerusalem. At first, the doctors there did not dare to accept the treatment. They had never done it before and Meital would become a guinea pig. Her T cells would be taken out, genetically engineered and then put back in so that they would better kill the cancer cells. Something along those lines. Previous chemotherapy and blood transfusions had not helped. The cancer had come back amplified. This was her last chance. The treatment cost 300,000 euros, an astronomical amount that was collected through crowdfunding.
The atmosphere in Jerusalem grew more and more grim during the six months. In Sheich Jarrah, a neighborhood in the heart of the city, 18 Palestinian families were evicted from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. It was the umpteenth attempt in the years-long process to evict the Palestinians from their land. During the war that started after the establishment of Israel, 600 Palestinian villages and towns were evacuated and their homes were taken by Jewish people. Many Palestinian refugees ended up in the Gaza border, where the population suddenly bulged, in the West Bank, or in the many neighboring countries around Israel: Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The expulsion of the Palestinians and the taking of land by the Israelis continued for decades, right up to the present day. Netanyahu threatened to annex the Jordan Valley and the idea of annexing the entire West Bank was even discussed. By now, hundreds of small and large Israeli settlements had sprung up on Palestinian soil, and the struggle seemed increasingly unequal. The Palestinians could get angry, fight back or demonstrate as they pleased, they were steadily forced out of the country. The battle for Sheich Jarrah, the neighborhood in Jerusalem, was like a fuse in a powder keg.
Demonstrations from both sides have sometimes turned into fights and linchmobs in recent months. The casualties continued to increase and the battle fought only in Gaza in recent years seemed to spread to the streets of every Israeli city. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared to be doing everything he could to stoke the fire even higher. The more chaos, the more fear, the more power he possessed. He was the strong man who had to protect the Jewish people. The danger of the enemy – whether Iran or Hamas – was widely reported.
In the meantime I tried to enter Israel via Egypt. Together with Anne, Monique and Maria I traveled to the Sinai, to enter the promised land – just like Moses – through the desert. But our attempt stranded within sight of the border. For six days I watched the border of Israel from my hotel room together with Anne. When we arrived, the border reopened for the first time in a year, but only to Israelis. The advantage was that it allowed us to meet another good friend: Marianna. She came especially from Israel to meet us, and to enjoy her beloved Red Sea. After six days we returned to the Netherlands and Marianna returned to Israel. I felt like Moses who sees the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, but is not allowed to enter it. “Strange,” Marianna had said, “Everyone tries to escape our country, ruled by our own evil pharaoh, and you are the only one that wants to come in. Typical you.’ The struggle in Israel was now becoming increasingly violent. Meital had meanwhile started her T-cell treatment.
When I got back home I wondered if my whole business was such a good idea. Why did I have to go to Israel? Perhaps the delusion had got hold of me? Did I really think that my presence would make Meital’s disease disappear, or that the battle in Jerusalem would turn out differently? What spiritual pride! But somehow I couldn’t let go of the idea either.
One night I had a dream. I watched as I slit a lamb’s throat. When I woke up I thought of Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God who is sacrificed for the sins of the world. Not many months before, I had drawn a Tarot card for the New Year on my birthday. It was a ritual I’ve been doing for years. It gave some sort of direction or theme for my coming year of life. The card I drew was “The Sacrifice.” When I saw the card I was shocked. What sacrifice should I make? Or was I the sacrifice myself? I thought of Abraham having to sacrifice his son Isaac. Finally, God intervened and had Abraham sacrifice a lamb. The morning after the dream I again picked up the text that came with the card:
“Now is the time to rededicate yourself to the journey. Do not give up now that you are so close to your destination. The sacrifice asks that you offer to Spirit that which is most precious to you. Your offer will be sanctioned and returned tenfold. It is time to offer it all to spirit so that it may unfold, as it will. DO NOT delay!’.
The message seemed clear. I couldn’t give up. Everyone around me in all states was talking about the coronavirus, the arguments for or against vaccines, the mouth masks, the measures taken by the government, but I could only think how I could quietly leave our country. could sneak and enter Israel.
I decided to give it a second try. Again I booked a trip to the Sinai desert, this time with a whole group. Anne decided not to come along but to ‘anchor’ the process at home. Monique and Maria went with them again, along with their partners Marcel and Yvo, my faithful traveling companions Johan and Marc signed up for the trip, as well as Marjoleen with whom I had often been to Israel, and a few other participants. Eran, a young Israeli, applied from Israel. The title of our meeting in Sinai was “The Tipping Point.” Surely it should be possible to positively influence the larger field in the world with a small deliberate action? More and more I felt, like Meital, that a combination of complete surrender and complete trust, but at the same time complete willingness to do whatever it takes, is the key to the solution. To the healing of Meital, and to the deliverance of Israel. One theory says that the wing beat of a butterfly on the other side of the world can cause a hurricane. In other words, the intention of the small has the power to bring about the great. Did I really dare to believe in that? Could I let go of everything to surrender completely to the assignment I was given? “It’s time to offer it all to spirit so that it may unfold, as it will.” the card had said.
On May 5, 2021, we left Schiphol with 10 people for Sharm El Sheich. One of the participants had to return home empty-handed when her corona test turned out to be positive. The rest of us would travel in pairs, so as not to affect the entire group in case of contamination. It turned out not to be necessary, but the tone was set. It would be a journey with obstacles. In Sharm el Sheich, Eran, the Israeli participant, would join us. In the middle of the night we landed close to the southernmost tip of the Sinai desert. The Tipping Point. The journey had begun.
- to be continued –